Millennium Post

Meek surrender down under

India’s bowlers on Sunday produced yet another sloppy performance to allow Australia clinch the five match ODI series by taking an unassailable 3-0 lead as they cruised to a three-wicket victory in the third match despite a heroic century by Virat Kohli.

Batting first, India scored a decent 295 for six in 50 overs with Virat Kohli scoring a run-a-ball 117 en route his 24th ODI century. In reply, Australia never looked in trouble as they knocked off the required runs with 1.1 overs still 

remaining. Glenn Maxwell put paid to India’s hopes of an elusive win with a superlative 96 off 83 balls that had eight fours and three sixes as the bowlers once again undid the valiant effort from the batting unit. The fielding was also not upto the mark at times.

Umesh Yadav, Barinder Sran and Ishant Sharma found it difficult to contain the batsman. Aaron Finch and Shaun Marsh started off at almost six runs per over and the rate didn’t come down even with early bowling changes.

Debutant Gurkeerat Singh Mann dropped Finch in the 6th over, with the batsman on 20. But it had yielded a wicket, with Finch caught behind in the 8th over off Ishant. Steve Smith then came to the crease and started off without feeling any pressure. He added 64 runs with Marsh, who scored a second consecutive half-century playing in place of David Warner, and the 100-mark coming up breezily in the 16th over. 

Australia were keeping abreast of the run-rate, and Smith was into his forties in the blink of an eye. Against the run of play then, in the 19th over, Ravindra Jadeja got one to spin away from him, and he edged it to slip with Ajinkya Rahane happily accepting the catch. His dismissal brought India back into the game with George Bailey stumped in the 27th over. Dhoni showed another quick thinking and brilliant glove-work moment when he ran out Mitchell Marsh off an Umesh Yadav throw in the 36th over. In between, Shaun Marsh was out caught pulling off Ishant in the 30th over. And when Matthew Wade holed out against the same bowler in the 39th over, Australia were reduced to 215/6.
But Maxwell then played a superb hand, with an uncharacteristic watchful innings to score his 13th ODI fifty. 

In doing so, he put on 80 runs off just 63 balls for the 7th wicket with James Faulkner and over by over, the hosts edged home to a win. Maxwell had reached his half-century in the 40th over, run-a-ball and there was an element of doubt about a faint edge on the snickometer in that same over. But then he took 15 runs off the 43rd over by Yadav changing the momentum of the game. Thereafter, the equation came down to a very manageable run-a-ball, and the duo took Australia home -- and to the series win -- without much fuss.

The visitors sprung a couple of surprises in the afternoon when they handed debuts to both Gurkeerat Mann and Rishi Dhawan. R Ashwin and Manish Pandey were excluded from the playing eleven as skipper MS Dhoni went in with six bowlers. Australia won the toss and elected to field, bringing back Mitchell Marsh to the line-up and leaving out Joel Paris. Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan took first strike then, but the former couldn’t replicate his centuries from the first two matches and was out caught behind off Kane Richardson in the fifth over. 

Kohli then walked to the crease, and looked fluent from the very beginning. Kohli got to his fifty in 51 deliveries, while Dhawan brought up his 16th ODI half-century off 76 balls. India’s 100-mark came up in the 22nd over, while they also brought up their 100-partnership off 120 balls. Dhawan was out in the 27th over and in came Rahane, who continued the momentum.

In the 40th over, Rahane got to his 15th ODI half-century. Kohli reached his 24th ODI hundred off 105 balls in the 43rd over, and in doing so became the quickest batsman to breach the 7000-ODI runs marker. 

India: Rohit c Wade b Richardson 6, Shikhar b Hastings 68, Virat c Bailey b Hastings 117, Rahane c Maxwell b Hastings 50, Dhoni c Maxwell b Hastings 23, Gurkeerat b Faulkner 8, Jadeja n.o 6, R Dhawan n.o 3; Extras (lb 5, w 9) 14; Total (in 50 overs) 295 for 6 (5.90 runs per over); Wickets 1-15, 2-134, 3-243, 4-265, 5-274, 6-288; Bowling: Richardson 10-0-48-1, Hastings 10-0-58-4, Faulkner 10-0-63-1, Boland 9-0-63-0, Maxwell 9-0-46-0, M Marsh 2-0-12-0.

Australia: S Marsh c Dhoni b I Sharma 62, Finch c Dhoni b Yadav 21, S Smith c Rahane b Jadeja 41, Bailey st Dhoni b Jadeja 23, Maxwell c Dhawan b Yadav 96, M Marsh run out 17, Wade c S Dhawan b I Sharma 6, Faulkner n.o 21, Hastings n.o 0; Extras: (LB-3, W-5, NB-1) 9; Total: (in 48.5 overs) 296 for 7; Fall of wickets: 1-48, 2-112, 3-150, 4-167, 5-204, 6-215, 7-295.; Bowling: Yadav 9.5-0-68-2, Sran 8-0-63-0, Sharma 10-0-53-2, R Dhawan 6-0-33-0, Gurkeerat 5-0-27-0, Jadeja 10-0-49-2.

We didn’t field well: Dhoni
Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Sunday hit out at his fielders for conceding easy boundaries at crucial junctures as Australia took an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five-match ODI series with a three-wicket win here.

“It’s tough to take. We didn’t field well tonight. There were at least three boundaries we should have easily stopped,” Dhoni said at the post-match presentation ceremony at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. He was happy with the way his batsmen showed up. “The batsmen are working hard, but we’re always talking about 10-15 extra runs. This was a slightly different wicket, but there was not much the batsmen could have done. 295 was a good total.

“Rishi and Gurkeerat bowled well, so we somewhat covered up for Ashwin’s absence. There is some encouragement, it is tough when you lose games but you have to realise the bowling attack is largely inexperienced. It’s good to see Ishant bowl well in the middle, but when there’s a bit of pressure, the fast bowlers leak runs.”

Australia skipper Steven Smith praised his bowlers for restricting India within 300 runs. “We did well to keep them down to 295. They bowled well in the middle, lost a few wickets in clumps before the Maxwell show. It was great to see him bat the way he did today. He scores so fast playing normal cricket shots, he’s got all the shots. He plays so beautifully when he hits the ball in the right areas. Hopefully, he’ll keep doing that.

“If I have my time over again, I may have batted first today. I didn’t anticipate it to get so dry in the end. There’s still room for improvement though.” 

Man of the Match Maxwell called it an amazing win. “I was speechless at the end. They got a good score, to chase that down with James Faulkner in the end is unbelievable. I feel like I’ve been making big strides over the last few months. The way I’m hitting the ball and approaching the game is different to what I’ve been doing over the last few years. 

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