After 3 straight defeats in South Africa — losing series 2-3 against the Proteas — and giving away an unassailable 2-0 lead to India, Australia put up a strong overall performance to boost up their morale ahead of the ODI World Cup, starting from October 5 in India.
The victory was set up by four fiery fifties from David Warner (56), Mitchell Marsh (96), Steven Smith (74) and Marnus Labuschagne (72) as Australia raked up 352 for 7.
Part-time off-spinner Glenn Maxwell then rose to the occasion, claiming figures of 4 for 40 as India folded for 286 in the final over. Cruising along at 171 for 2 in the stiff chase, Indian middle-order crumbled under pressure as Australia registered an easy win.
Here’s a look at the key moments of the third and final game of the ODI series.
Australia’s blazing start
As Australia won the toss and opted to bat, openers David Warner and Mitchell Marsh got off to a blazing start to put early pressure on India. Assessing the conditions early and well both Warner and Marsh decided to make the most against the new ball and inside the powerplay. Going hammer and tongs against the India quicks, both raised 50-run stand inside the first 7 overs. Warner in particular, went completely berserk as he smoked the India pacers left, right and centre. Firing his third consecutive fifty of the series, Warner smashed 6 fours and four sixes on his way to a fiery 32-ball fifty. But eventually in the 9th over, Warner’s stay in the middle came to an end as he got caught behind while trying to scoop a Prasidh Krishna delivery.
The century stand
As Warner went all guns blazing against the pacers, the other opener Mitchell Marsh, who fell cheaply in the first game and missed the second, got settled in. After Warner was dismissed, Marsh then joined hands with Steve Smith and pressed on the accelerator. Not allowing the run rate to drop, Marsh along with Smith went on the charge as Australia raised 100 inside 12 overs. As the duo continued to smack the bowlers, Marsh raised his fifty in the 17th over and kept the scoreboard moving. Marsh then hit the top gear in the 23rd over, smoking Jasprit Bumrah for 18 in an over. In the following over, Smith too got to his 30th ODI fifty as the duo’s century stand put tremendous pressure on India, who were bleeding runs and looked absolutely stunned with the onslaught. At the halfway mark, Australia’s score read 188 for 1 as they looked all set for a 400-plus score.
The wobble and Labuschagne finish
Under the scorching sun, the Marsh and Smith relentless hitting made them dehydrated as drinks arrived for them almost every time an over ended. A cramped up Marsh almost gave up on running and was dealing mostly in boundaries. The terrific 119-ball 137 finally ended when a tired Marsh cut a loose Kuldeep Yadav delivery straight to Prasidh Krishna cover-point. Falling on 96, as Marsh made the disappointing long walk back, the breakthrough opened a window of opportunity for India. Mohammed Siraj then came back and got the other set batter Smith for 74. As Alex Carey (11), Glenn Maxwell (5) and Cameron Green (9) then fell in quick succession after Smith, India did manage to control the damage and to some extent and paused the run flow. However at the other end, Marnus Labuschagne carried on unfazed and with confidence and allowed the scoreboard to keep moving. His brisk 46-run partnership with skipper Pat Cummins took the Aussies past the 300-mark, providing the needed momentum in the death overs. Bringing up his 8th ODI fifty, Labuschagne managed a solid 72 before becoming Bumrah’s third victim in the penultimate over. Cummins and Starc then added 7 runs in the final over to take Australia past the 350 mark.
India beat Australia by 99 runs, take 2-0 unassailable lead
Rohit goes out all guns blazing
With the series already in kitty and a steep target in front, a returning Rohit Sharma went into all-out attack mode right from the word go. Opening the batting with new partner in Washington Sundar, Rohit looked to make most of the powerplay restrictions. Hitting sixes at will, Rohit set the tone for the chase as India raised fifty in just 6.4 overs. While Sundar struggled in his new opening role, Rohit looked fluent and brought up his half-century off just 31 balls. As the first powerplay ended, India raked up 72 runs to set a solid platform. However, Glenn Maxwell, soon after the powerplay, ended Sundar’s struggle at the crease, dismissing him for 18. Virat Kohli then joined Rohit as both looked to build a partnership. While Rohit continued with his aggressive approach, Kohli, along with odd boundaries, focussed on rotating the strike and got his eyes in. The duo helped India raise the 100 in the 16th over. With the partnership building up strongly, Rohit looked set for a deserved ton but Maxwell pulled off an absolute blinder out of nowhere off his own bowling to dismiss the India skipper for 81 in the 21st over.
Maxwell shines as others chip in
With set Rohit back in the pavilion, Virat and Shreyas Iyer led a brief recovery but the former departed in the 27th over soon after raising his fifty. As Kohli became Maxwell’s third victim, India found themselves slipping in the massive chase. KL Rahul and Iyer then stitched another partnership but with boundaries not flowing freely the asking rate kept on rising. The 52-run stand was eventually ended by Mitchell Starc as Rahul fell for 26 in the 36th over. From there on, Australia never allowed India to get back into the game. The fall of regular wickets and dot-ball pressure got the better of Iyer as he became Maxwell’s fourth catch of the evening. With 249 for six in the 39th over and Iyer back in the hut, the chase went out of hands for India. Suryakumar Yadav (8), Kuldeep Yadav (2), Jasprit Bumrah (5) went back as fast as they arrived as Ravindra Jadeja found himself alone. In the penultimate over Jadeja perished for 35 and Cameron Green then wrapped up the game with the final wicket of Mohammed Siraj.