India storm to series victory

25 September 2017

Rohit, Pandya go big to deliver five-wicket win despite Finch's comeback ton

India v Australia ODIs, Third ODI


Another concerning batting collapse has consigned Australia to an eleventh consecutive ODI defeat abroad and seen them relinquish their five-match series against India with two matches still to play.

The Australians were thrashed by five wickets in Indore on Sunday as Aaron Finch's comeback century went to waste following a late batting stumble of 5-51 on a flat surface at Holkar Stadium.

Captain Steve Smith slammed his batsmen after their heavy defeat in Kolkata three days ago and his mood would have only darkened after they managed just 6-293 here having been on course for a score nudging 350.

And that total proved to be well under par at a small venue that gave up an average of 20 sixes per game in the Indian Premier League this year, India overcoming a late wobble of their own to win with 13 balls to spare.

While the tourists extended their record ODI losing streak away from home to 11 (their previous worst run on the road was seven more than 20 years ago), India's ninth consecutive ODI win equals a national record and they will finish the series with the world No.1 ranking if they win in either Bengaluru on Thursday or Nagpur the following Sunday.

With the series on the line, the tourists made two more big changes having dropped spinner Adam Zampa in Kolkata three days earlier; Finch, who missed the first two games of the series due to a calf injury, was certain to return when fit but the decision to drop out-of-form wicketkeeper Matthew Wade in favour of Peter Handscomb came as more of a surprise.

Wade's axing could have greater ramifications ahead of the Ashes this summer and, with England's arrival down under looming, Australia will be desperate to salvage something from the rest of this tour to re-gain momentum ahead of the first Test two months from now.

The batting stumble on Sunday came after a bright start that silenced the sell-out crowd of 28,500 people; having called correctly at the toss for the first time in 12 matches across all formats, Smith shared a 154-run stand with Finch, who had trained furiously the previous day in order to prove his fitness.

Having added 70 with David Warner for the first wicket before the left-hander was bowled by Hardik Pandya for 42, Finch lifted the tempo to put the tourists on track for a sizeable total, which was seemingly required at a venue where runs came at a rate of 9.37 an over in three IPL games this year.

The right-hander took a liking to the left-arm wrist spin of Kuldeep Yadav, India's hat-trick hero in Kolkata whose ability to deceive Australia's batsmen in the first two matches has been a major talking point in this series. But Finch seemingly had no issue in picking the 22-year-old's variations, hitting him for three sixes and three fours as the spinner leaked 75 runs from his 10 overs.

Finch crunches comeback century

But the fact Kuldeep picked up two match-turning wickets late in his spell meant that ultimately, despite being below his best, this would again be his team's day.

With the score 1-224 and more than 12 overs still remaining, Finch's first ODI century in more than 18 months came to an end on 124 when he picked out deep mid-wicket attempting what would have been his sixth six.

It was a chanceless and well-paced knock from the Victorian that perfectly laid the platform for a late acceleration - which never eventuated.

Having grown increasingly frustrated at his inability to beat the in-field after Finch departed, Smith advanced at Kuldeep but succeeded in only chipping a catch to long off, a rare show of aggression in his 71-ball innings of 63.

And from the very next ball, Glenn Maxwell (five) decided to charge at leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal and was stumped, just as he had been at Eden Gardens on Thursday.

At a time when the Australians should have been launching towards an imposing total, they lost 3-19 in four-a-and-half overs, from which they never recovered.

Travis Head was deceived by a Jasprit Bumrah slower ball and bowled for four before Handscomb (three) was undone by a superb outfield catch from Manish Pandey, who held his nerve and eventually the catch having straddled the boundary rope at long off.

Scores of five, four and three would be the final wickets to fall but Marcus Stoinis (27no from 28 balls), who was again left to carry the final stages of the innings, was stifled by India's impressive pace duo of Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who produced a stream of perfectly executed yorkers and changes in pace late on to restrict the tourists to a sub-300 score.

Finch tons up, India fight back in Indore

And when Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane brought up India's 100 in just 15 overs, a series win was within reach.

Pacemen Pat Cummins, Nathan Coulter-Nile and Kane Richardson again bowled admirably on a surface that offered little assistance as India's imposing top order, after a slow start to the series, briefly found top gear.

Rohit hit four sixes in his 62-ball innings of 71, including one off Richardson's bowling that ended up on the roof of the western grandstand, as the two openers blazed an opening stand of 139 in less than 22 overs.

And while both fell in quick succession - Rohit caught in the deep off Coulter-Nile and Rahane trapped in front by the excellent Cummins for 70 - skipper Virat Kohli and the unstoppable force of Pandya (78 from 72 balls having been elevated to No.4 in the order) reduced the runs required to single figures with eight wickets still remaining.

Rohit puts Richardson into orbit

Another double strike - Kohli caught in the deep off Ashton Agar and the out-of-form Kedar Jadhav caught behind off Richardson - led to a pivotal moment in the match that, as has been the case all series, Australia failed to grasp.

Having just slammed Agar for his third six, Pandya was lured into another big shot that skewed high off his bat but Smith, running back from cover, misread the drop of the ball and the ball slipped through his fingers.

And when Pandya and Pandey added 78 in little more than 10 overs, the series was out of Australia's hands as well.

Australia's Qantas Tour of India

Australia ODI squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner, Ashton Agar, Hilton Cartwright, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Patrick Cummins, James Faulkner, Aaron Finch, Peter Handscomb, Travis Head, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade, Adam Zampa.

Australia T20 squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner, Jason Behrendorff, Dan Christian, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Aaron Finch, Travis Head, Moises Henriques, Glenn Maxwell, Tim Paine, Kane Richardson, Adam Zampa.

India squad (first three ODIs): Virat Kohli (c), Rohit Sharma (vc), KL Rahul, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, Ajinkya Rahane, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami.

ODI Fixtures

September 17: India won by 26 runs (DLS Method)

September 21: India won by 50 runs

September 24: India won by five wickets

September 28: M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru

October 1: VCA Stadium, Nagpur

T20 Fixtures

October 7: JSCA International Stadium, Ranchi

October 10: Barsapara Stadium, Guwahati

October 13: Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, Hyderabad

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