Aus beat India by 35 runs, clinch series 3-2

Aus beat India by 35 runs, clinch series 3-2

Usman Khawaja plays a shot as Rishabh Pant looks on during the fifth one-day international (ODI) cricket match between India and Australia at the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium in New Delhi. (AFP Photo)

Australia ended India’s decade-long dominance at home with a 35-run victory in the series-deciding contest at the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium here on Wednesday.

Trailing 0-2 in the five-match one-day series, Australia fought back in a sensational manner to win three matches on the trot, and walked away with their first ODI series win in India (3-2) since 2009.

The defeat opened up several areas of concerns for India, who chose Mohammad Shami and Ravindra Jadeja in place of KL Rahul and Yuzvendra Chahal for the decider. The hosts, in fact, fielded seven bowling options which included two all-rounders, in Kedar Jadhav and Vijay Shankar. Still, they couldn’t arrest the Australian partnerships from prospering.

Choosing to bat, Australian opener Usman Khawaja (100) added to his credentials by hitting his second century in five days and Peter Handscomb (52) began from where he left in Mohali with a second successive half-century.

India fought back in the middle overs, but Australia finished with 272/9 in 50 overs on a slow and low surface, despite a fine spell from Jasprit Bumrah (10-0-39-0) and Bhuvneshwar Kumar (3/48) and Md Shami (2/57) picking five wickets among themselves. Jadeja, better among the spinners, finished with 2/45.

The 91-run seventh-wicket partnership between Bhuvneshwar and Jadhav was the only phase where India looked to put up a fight, besides Rohit Sharma’s solitary effort to 56 off 89 balls. With Australian seamers using the new ball to good effect and young leggie Adam Zampa (3/46) suffocating the batsmen, India succumbed to 237.

India’s chase began ominously. Shikhar Dhawan was beaten by the bounce of Pat Cummins and edged to wicket-keeper Alex Carrey in the fifth over. Virat Kohli lasted for mere 22 balls before top-edging Marcus Stoinis to Carey. He walked away slapping his bat and his dismissal instantly exposed the brittleness of the Indian middle-order.

Rishabh Pant, coming at No 4, lacked intent and poked a beauty from Nathan Lyon to slips. Vijay Shankar, too, frittered away a golden opportunity. By the 25th over, India reeled at 124/4 and possibilities of win began to look far-fetched. It all came down to Rohit, who raised his 41st half-century. Gifted life twice, he faced an embarrassing dismissal when in a bid to hoick Zampa, he was stumped in the 29th over and in the process flung his bat.

Bhuvneshwar and Jadhav later injected some fight in an insipid Indian performance, but it was too little and too late.

Unlike India, Australian batsmen judiciously applied themselves to the conditions. Khawaja picked his bowlers wisely and was involved in two crucial partnerships. With Aaron Finch, he raised 76 runs for the opening wicket. And after Jadeja bowled Finch with a peach of a delivery, he raised a quick 99 with Handscomb for the second wicket.

Khawaja was, particularly, brilliant against Kuldeep Yadav, picking him for two sixes, before raising his century in the 32nd over, with ten boundaries and two sixes. He, however, couldn’t build on it and holed out to Kohli at cover in a brilliant 33rd over bowled by Bhuvneshwar

His dismissal triggered a collapse with Australia losing three wickets in four overs, including that of Glenn Maxwell and Handscomb, who till then had played a neat knock. Timely striking from Jhye Richardson and Cummins at death helped Australia add 70 runs in last 10 overs and reach a competitive total. But the Indians just could not pick themselves for a fight on Wednesday.

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