Australia dug deep to defeat India in the fifth and final ODI of the series in New Delhi by 35 runs on Wednesday, becoming the first Aussie team to win a five-match ODI series after losing the first two games.
Australia posted a competitive 272-9, thanks to a second ton of the series by Usman Khawaja (100). Seam bowler Bhuvneshwar Kumar (3-48) pulled things back for India with the ball when the Aussies looked like posting more than 300 at one stage.
In the chase, India’s top order failed yet again as Rohit Sharma fought a lone battle with 56 as the Indians slumped to 132-6. However, a 91-run stand between Kedar Jadhav (44) and Bhuvneshwar (46) raised Indian hopes before the Aussies closed out a deserved win, dismissing the hosts for 237 in the final over.
Seamers Pat Cummins (2-38) and Jhye Richardson (2-48) deserved credit for the win as it was their late order strikes that took the visitors from a precarious 229-7 to 272-9 in the first innings.
KHAWAJA ROLLS ON
Australia opener Khawaja has been in merciless form in the ODI series. He entered the decider with a century, a ninety and a fifty under his belt. Batting first on a Kotla pitch known to get slower as the match wears on, Khawaja cashed in to set up a match-winning target.
Khawaja’s biggest achievement was not letting India’s main weapon on the slow pitch – wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav – settle by taking 24 runs from 27 balls off him. Kuldeep finished with horrible figures of 1-74 from his 10 overs and it was because of the pressure that Khawaja put on him early.
The left-handed batsman made exactly 100, finishing the series with 383 runs at an average of 76, which is the second most runs by an Aussie in an ODI series against India.
MIDDLE ORDER COLLAPSE
At 175-1 in the 33rd over, Australia were looking at a total of at least 330. But India clawed their way back, thanks mainly to seamers Bhuvneshwar and Mohammed Shami. Bhuvi first forced Khawaja to drive on the up to captain Virat Kohli. Left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja (2-45) had Glenn Maxwell caught at cover while Kuldeep got dangerman Ashton Turner with a googly.
At the other end, Shami had Peter Handscomb and keeper Alex Carey caught behind as the Aussies stumbled to 229-7 with four overs to go.
Australia were in danger of being bowled out for less than 250. But pacers Cummins and Richardson have proven to be more than capable with the bat, teaming up to take 14 off the final over in a chase for victory in the first T20.
On Wednesday, they went into overdrive in the final four overs, smashing five boundaries between them as the visitors ended up on 272-9.
INDIA FALTER AT TOP
India’s top order has fallen apart in testing conditions in ODIs Down Under and now at home. In another example of a growing trend, Shikhar Dhawan was caught behind off Cummins going for a drive while Marcus Stoinis had the main man Kohli caught behind off a ball that jumped on the batsman.
Once Nathan Lyon had Rishabh Pant caught at slip and leg-spinner Adam Zampa had Vijay Shankar caught at long on, India were 120-4 with the match all but gone. Last hope Rohit was stumped while going for an ungainly slog off Zampa, losing his bat in the process as Australia closed in on 132-5.
India were on the receiving end of conditions for the third straight match. In the third ODI in Ranchi, heavy dew was expected but India had to face a slow surface chasing 314. In the fourth ODI in Mohali, India amassed 358 but heavy dew made India’s bowlers ineffective as they against lost comfortably. And in the series decider, India were left chasing on a sluggish surface where dew did not kick in.
INDIA FIGHT BACK
Just when it looked like Australia were going to crush India, Jadhav and Bhuvneshwar counter-attacked with a 91-run stand, taking the match right to the final four overs.
But Cummins was on top of his game, firing a full ball which Bhuvi scooped to mid on. The first ball of the next over, Jadhav was caught at the deep off Richardson as India lost both wickets off successive balls to lose the match and the series. It was Australia’s first ODI series win in India in 10 years.
Ashton Turner smashed 84 off 43 balls to pull off a remarkable chase of 359 in the fourth ODI in Mohali. As the teams gear up for the fifth match in New Delhi on Wednesday, Australia vice-captain Alex Carey is confident of sealing a series win after winning four out of six games during their limited overs tour of India.
“We were put under pressure early in the series. It is obviously really exciting going into tomorrow with the series on the line,” Carey was quoted as saying by AFP on Tuesday.
“Obviously (we are taking) some momentum from the last game. The boys are feeling confident,” he said.
Australia swept the two-match Twenty20 series and have now posted two 300-plus scores in two games, which is a big boost in the lead-up to the World Cup.
Apart from Turner, captain Aaron Finch, Usman Khawaja and Peter Handscomb have contributed with the bat and Carey said it is difficult to pick a standout performer.
“I think if you look across the board everyone has performed at times. For Usman Khawaja, to back up his hundred with a score of 90 (91) was impressive to see,” the wicketkeeper-batsman said.
“I can go across the whole side and say that everyone’s improving.”
Carey said Australia’s recent performances raise hopes of an even better outcome once Steve Smith and David Warner join the side.
“Those are definitely some big names that might come back into the line. It’s only healthy for Australian cricket that the guys in the side are playing well and these guys that have done really well in the past have definitely put their hand up for selection when they are available,” said Carey.
“We are really confident moving with the squad we take whoever that is to the World Cup that is going to perform. We have obviously got tomorrow to focus on” he added.
Durham have signed Australia batsman D’Arcy Short for this season’s Vitality Blast.
The 28-year-old, who has played four one-day internationals and 20 Twenty20s for his country, will arrive at the Emirates Riverside in July.
Short is Durham’s second overseas player for this campaign, following in the footsteps of compatriot Cameron Bancroft.
Short, the Player of the Tournament and leading scorer in the last two seasons of Australia’s Big Bash League, said: “I can’t wait to get over to Durham and play some cricket, playing in England is something that I have wanted to do for a while and I’m very excited to get started.
“It’s very much a new experience for me and a challenge to play on some different grounds, wickets, pitches and against some new bowlers.”