Aaron Finch's brilliant century went in vain as India romped home to victory in the 48th over of the match to take an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five-match series and also rise to number one in the ICC ODI rankings. Also, this is India's ninth successive ODI win and it equals their previous record that the Men in Blue set in 2008.
Also, this is India’s fifth successive ODI victory at Indore and they keep their invincible record intact at this venue. Meanwhile, as for the visitors, their bad run outside their home continued as they have not tasted victory at an away/neutral ODI for over a year now. Their last victory was at Benoni on the 27th of September, 2016 (the next ODI will be played on the 28th of September).
Chasing a daunting target of 294, Indian openers Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane gave the team the perfect start which they needed to chase down this big target. The duo took apart the Aussie bowling line-up enroute their respective fifties.
Rohit in particular was at his sublime best as he recorded his fastest fifty in ODI cricket (42 balls). Rohit now also holds the record of most number of sixes (65) against Australia in ODIs, going past Brendon McCullum's record of 61.
Rohit and Rahane put on a 139-run partnership for the first wicket, before it was ended by Nathan Coulter-Nile, who removed the 'hitman' for 71. Couple of overs later, Rahane too perished as he was adjudged LBW off the bowling of Pat Cummins for 70.
Hardik Pandya then joined Virat Kohli in the middle and the duo then put on a 56 run-stand for the fourth wicket to steady the ship after the twin blows. But Kohli's innings was cut short by Ashton Agar, who tossed the ball up and the Indian skipper hit the ball straight into the hands of Finch at long off.
Kedar Jadhav too followed suit as he once again failed with the bat to be dismissed by Richardson for 2. Pandya then found an able partner in Manish Pandey and they kept rotating the strike well and also hitting boundaries at comfortable ease.
The duo put on a 78-run partnership for the fifth wicket to put India firmly in control of the match. Pandya finally fell for 78 but it was a tad too late for the visitors as Pandey hit the winning runs to guide India to their sixth consecutive ODI series win since June 2016.
Earlier, Opener Aaron Finch, playing his first game of the series, struck a fluent century before India bounced back in the last 10 overs to restrict Australia to 293 for six
Finch, who replaced young Hilton Cartright after recovering from a calf injury, made an instant impact with a classy 124 after skipper Steve Smith won the toss for the first time in the series and elected to bat.
Exploiting a flat Holkar track, Finch added 70 runs for the opening wicket with David Warner (42) and raised a 154-run partnership with Smith for the second wicket.
Smith (63 off 71) happily played second-fiddle during his partnership with Finch, whose footwork was impeccable. Finch, whose knock came off 125 balls, decorated his eighth ODI century with 17 boundaries including five sixes.
A docile pitch to deal with, Indian bowlers hardly troubled the Australians as Kuldeep Yadav (2/75) and Yuzvendra Chahal (1/54) largely remained ineffective. Finch's dominance against Kuldeep was clear from the fact that he collected 41 runs off the 26 balls he faced from the Chinaman.
However, the hosts staged a remarkable comeback in the last 10 overs of the game after the fall of Finch, giving away just 59 runs and taking four wickets. It all started in the last ball of the 38th over when Finch lofted Kuldeep to Kedar Jadhav at deep-midwicket.
The stage was set for Australia to go for the kill, being placed 234 for two in 40 overs, but they lost Smith and Glenn Maxwell (5) in successive balls. Kuldeep saw the back of Smith, caught at long-off, while Chahal had Maxwell stumped.
Bumrah got rid of Travis Head (4) and Peter Handscomb (3), leaving Australia in tatters. Marcus Stoinis then played a good knock took the side close to 300 with his unbeaten 27.
First Published: September 24, 2017, 10:18 PM IST