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India thump Aus to win series

From Sidney Kiran, Indore, DH News Service, Sep 25 2017, 0:30 IST

Kohli's men register easy five-wicket win to take an unassailable 3-0 lead

 Indian cricket team captain Virat Kohli plays a shot during the 3rd ODI cricket match against Australia at Holkar Stadium in Indore on Sunday. PTI Photo

Indian cricket team captain Virat Kohli plays a shot during the 3rd ODI cricket match against Australia at Holkar Stadium in Indore on Sunday. PTI Photo

India felt the Australian pinch for the first time in the series but that proved nothing more than a minor irritant as they bulldozed the visitors to take an unassailable 3-0 lead here on Sunday.

After dishing out a commendable job with the ball in restricting the Australians to just 293/6 on a belter of a pitch at the Holkar Stadium, the Indians rode on their collective batting might to register a five-wicket victory. The Indians thus equalled their record of nine straight ODI wins — achieved between November 2008 and February 2009 — and extended their unbeaten streak to five one-dayers at this lucky venue.

Openers Rohit Sharma (71, 62b, 6x4, 4x6) and Ajinkya Rahane (70, 76b, 9x4), who have been in excellent form over the last few months, kick-started the chase on a frenetic pace, laying siege to the Australian bowlers from the word go. Rohit, dropped twice, was particularly more brutal on the visitors early on, stepping down to the pacers and unleashing some massive shots into the stands. Rahane, on the other hand, drove, pulled and cut well, as runs kept coming at a fast clip.

The Australians couldn’t find an answer to the carnage from either ends. They just hoped for a miracle to gain a foothold in the contest that was heading India’s way as Rohit and Rahane batted at a high tempo. Pacers Pat Cummins and Nathan Coulter-Nile gave them that glimmer of hope by removing Rohit and Rahane respectively in quick succession but in walked Virat Kohli and Hardik Pandya who carried the baton with gusto.

Sent with the licence to thrill, Pandya dictated terms from the start to allow little breathing space for the Aussies. Pandya also batted smartly, rotating the strike well with chase master Kohli. The skipper, looking set to anchor India to another victorious chase, departed with the game still in the balance. Pandya, like he’s been doing repeatedly in the recent past, grabbed the chance to become a hero with both hands, hammering a calculated 78 (72b, 5x4, 4x6) to power India home.

While the batsmen flourished much to the delight of the packed house, the Indian bowlers also deserve special praise for stalling an Australian march. Winning the toss for the first time on the tour, Smith simply had no hesitation in taking first strike on a batting paradise. David Warner (42) and Aaron Finch (124, 125b, 12x4, 5x6), returning to side after being laid low by a calf injury, gave the Aussies a brilliant start, posting the visitors’ first fifty-plus opening partnership in eight games.

Cautious start

They were cautious at the start as both Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar bowled with plenty of discipline, hardly offering any width. Slowly, under the sharp afternoon sun, they began to gain in confidence and started to play their customary big shots as Indians started to worry a bit.

Pandya provided the first breakthrough, deceiving Warner (42) with a clever piece of bowling. But Finch and skipper Smith took charge from there and motored along smoothly.

They hardly played a rash shot, easily milking singles with an odd boundary to surpass 200 in the 35th over itself. With Finch having just brought up his century and Smith soon stroking a second successive half-ton, Australia looked on course for a score in the vicinity of 350.

Kuldeep, carted for 75 runs, brought India back, first dismissing Finch and then removing Smith in a space of five overs — both batsmen perishing while attempting the big shot. Yuzvendra Chahal then scalped the dangerous Glenn Maxwell for a third successive time as Australians stumbled inexplicably.

They managed just 59 runs in the final 10 overs, settling for a total that was never going to be enough for the strong Indian batting line-up.

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