Dettol ODI Series v India
Australia chase falls short as India avoid the sweep
A record sixth-wicket partnership lifted India before improved showing with ball held new-look Aussies in check despite Finch, Maxwell fireworks
Andrew Ramsey at Manuka Oval
2 December 2020, 11:30 PM AEST
The much-anticipated international arrival of allrounder Cameron Green stole the early headlines, but it was India's previously untried bowlers who sealed a consolation 13-run win in the final game of the Dettol ODI Series.
Green was the most talked-about of the seven changes – both forced and optional – to the two teams made for the fixture rendered a dead-rubber by Australia's comfortable back-to-back wins in Sydney.
The 21-year-old received his ODI cap from Steve Smith prior to play starting, crowning a journey to the elite level many anticipated from the time he tore through Tasmania's batting to claim 5-24 as a teenager four years ago.
He appeared neither overawed or out of place in the company of contemporary legends the likes of Smith and India captain Virat Kohli, but he wielded minimal impact on a game that was effectively decided by a couple of India's blazing batters and a pair of fresh bowlers.
India seemed destined to post a sub-par total when Josh Hazlewood continued his stranglehold over Kohli, but they blasted their way to 5-302 thanks to a sixth-wicket stand of 150 from 18 overs between Hardik Pandya (92no off 76 balls) and Ravindra Jadeja (66no off 50).
In contrast to the first two games of the series, Australia's revamped batting line-up stumbled early against debutant seamer Thangarasu Natarajan and Shardul Thakur who had been brought in as replacements for Mohammed Shami and Navdeep Saini.
Natarajan struck the first blow, but it was Thakur's success soon after that resonated loudest when he had Smith – who had plundered 62-ball centuries in each of the first two matches – caught down the leg side for seven, before he was able to even register a boundary.
Desperate to avoid a Dettol Series clean-sweep, India squandered a series of opportunities to remove Australia's batting mainstay Aaron Finch who was missed twice on 22 (a simple slips catch and a possible run out), on 27 (to a tough caught and bowled) and a reviewed lbw shout on 35.
But Finch's fortune finally expired on 75 when he holed out to long-on, and after brief cameos from Moises Henriques (22 from 31 balls), Green (21 from 27) and Alex Carey (38 from 42), it was up to Glenn Maxwell – arguably in the best form of his career – to see them home.
The 32-year-old flagged his intentions with consecutive sixes off Jadeja – the second of which bounced off the roof of the Bob Hawke Stand and disappeared into the Canberra night – before launching an even more audacious switch-hit from India's other fresh inclusion, spinner Kuldeep Yadav.
Clearly unfazed by public debate over the legality or morality of a batter changing his stance before the ball is delivered, Maxwell clobbered the left-arm spinner deep into the Sir Donald Bradman Stand to bring the crowd of 5,144 to their feet.
The fireworks ended after blazing 59 from 38 balls when he fell to Jasprit Bumrah's three-card trick – a pair of wides immediately followed by a laser-like yorker that smashed into leg stump.
Thakur (3-51) and Natarajan (2-70) then mopped up the tail as India ended a five-match losing streak in ODI cricket that stretched back to the start of their New Zealand tour prior to the global pandemic taking hold earlier this year.
Pandya conceded at tonight's change of innings that when he and Jadeja joined forces after Kohli was dismissed at the end of the 32nd over, their score of 5-152 meant they were looking at a total of around 260-270.
It seemed that might even prove a stretch as the pair struggled to find regular boundaries in the ensuing 12 overs that yielded 64 runs and gave no hint of the carnage to follow.
But it was when Hazlewood and Sean Abbott returned to the bowling crease to close out the innings that India's last recognised batting pair put them to the sword, which Jadeja likes to pretend he's swinging when he reaches a batting milestone.
He had reason to unleash the swashbuckling celebration when he passed 50 courtesy of a third consecutive boundary off Abbott who came in for the worst of the treatment.
Abbott had begun his second ODI – and first in more than six years – in triumph by having India opener Shikhar Dhawan caught at short cover from his fifth delivery of the match.
But his dream return took on something of a nightmare tinge as Jadeja darted around the crease to unnerve the bowler before launching him to all parts of Manuka Oval, plundering 43 runs from the last 17 balls he faced.
In concert with Pandya, who threatened to swing himself off his feet with the ferocity of his heaving, they blazed 86 runs from the final six overs sent down by Abbott (who conceded 49 runs from three) and Hazlewood (37 from three).
India's total consequently soared past 300 on the strength of the 150-run stand, India's third highest in ODIs for the sixth wicket and the fifth highest the team has produced for any wicket in 50-over games on Australia soil.
Amid the clinically clean hitting there was but one chance given, when Pandya was on 59 and Finch's shy at the striker's end stumps from mid-off missed the target with the India allrounder stretching to make his ground.
Otherwise, it was a flawless finish to an innings that had, until the final phase, struggled to establish any real momentum despite another command performance from Kohli.
On reaching 23, Kohli became just the sixth batter in 50 years of ODI cricket to reach 12,000 runs and remarkably did so in 58 fewer innings than the previous fastest to that rare benchmark – India's previous batting deity, Sachin Tendulkar.
By comparison, Kohli completed his 251st ODI with a career tally to date of 12,040 runs at an average of 59.31 per innings whereas Tendulkar's record after the same number of appearances was 9325 at 42.00.
Kohli appeared on-course for his 44th ODI century as wickets fell with regularity about him as newly installed opener Shubnam Gill (33), Shreyas Iyer (19) and KL Rahul (5) fell to the spin of Ashton Agar and Adam Zampa.
The slow nature of the Manuka pitch had convinced Finch to take the unusual step of opening the bowling with off-spinner Maxwell, whose only previous experience with the new ball in ODIs was a couple of games in Zimbabwe six years ago when he partnered Mitchell Johnson.
But it was pace that eventually brought Kohli's downfall, or a lack of it as Hazlewood accounted for India's best batter for the fourth time in as many ODI matches between the teams.
Just as Kohli was eyeing a big score and with India's hopes of a sizeable total seemingly riding on his shoulders, Hazlewood found the edge of the maestro's bat with a slower delivery that bounced well before keeper Carey before repeating the dose with greater success next ball.
Initially, Australia's spearhead (in the absence of fellow quicks Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc) didn't think Kohli had got a touch as he looked to work the ball from outside off stump through the leg side.
His doubt was shared by umpire Paul Wilson, but after Carey and Maxwell (fielding at point) aired their view that Kohli had feathered a catch the decision was referred to the video umpire and the slightest spike in real-time snickometer reading had the skipper on his way.
However, if Australia felt the greatest danger of India's batting had disappeared into the dressing room with him, they were soon set straight.
The decision to rest Cummins was taken with an eye to the upcoming four-Test Vodafone Series starting later this month, while Starc reported soreness in his back and rib cage and team doctors decided he would benefit from a spell on the sidelines.
The absence of the two quicks paved the way for Abbott and Agar to return to the bowling line-up, while Green's all-round capabilities meant he slotted into the batting middle-order with Marnus Labuschagne was elevated to fill injured David Warner's opening berth.
Labuschagne's stay at the top of the order was brief, dismissed for seven in the sixth over when he bottom-edged Natarajan on to his leg stump handing the 29-year-old left-armer his maiden ODI wicket from his 13th delivery in international cricket.
Green's start with the ball was less-fairytale, although he generated impressive pace and surprising bounce from his four overs (0-27).
He also learned quickly the step-up in class to international level when he found himself bowling at Kohli in his first over.
When he dropped marginally short with his fifth delivery, Kohli was on him in a trice and sent the ball scorching to the square leg fence and when Green over-corrected next ball the master flicked him with impunity through mid-wicket for another four.
The 21-year-old's long awaited debut did see him beat the edge of Kohli's bat a couple of times later in the innings, and a 27-ball cameo with the bat that showcased some of his clear gifts of sweet timing and power-hitting.
And like all great drawcards, he showed enough with both bat and ball to leave cricket fans, in Australia and beyond, yearning to see more.
Australia XI: Aaron Finch (c), Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Moises Henriques, Glenn Maxwell, Alex Carey (wk), Cameron Green, Ashton Agar, Sean Abbott, Adam Zampa, Josh Hazlewood #AUSvIND— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) December 2, 2020
India XI: Shikhar Dhawan, Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli (c), Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul (wk), Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, T Natarajan #AUSvIND— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) December 2, 2020
Dettol ODI Series v India 2020
Australia ODI squad: Aaron Finch (c), Sean Abbott, Ashton Agar, Alex Carey , Pat Cummins (vc), Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Moises Henriques, Marnus Labuschagne, Glenn Maxwell, Daniel Sams, Steven Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, Andrew Tye, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Adam Zampa
India ODI squad: Virat Kohli (c), Shikhar Dhawan, Shubman Gill, KL Rahul (wk), Sanju Samson (wk), Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya, Mayank Agarwal, Ravindra Jadeja, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Navdeep Saini, Shardul Thakur.
First ODI: Australia won by 66 runs
Second ODI: Australia won by 51 runs
Third ODI: India won by 13 runs
*The matches and travel remain subject to any relevant government restrictions or requirements