Team India were a determined unit on the field in the third and final One Day International against Australia at Canberra on Wednesday. Despite trailing 0-2 and with the series already lost, the Men in Blue appeared eager to salvage a consolation win, which is exactly how it panned out as the Indians fought back well to end the series 1-2. They defeated the home team by 13 runs in the last game of the ODI series, bowling out the rivals for 289 after setting them a total of 302.
The Inndians were on top of their game with the ball, with Jasprit Bumrah in excellent form in the powerplay overs, extracting extra bounce as he troubled stand-in opener Marnus Labsuchagne. T Natarajan, who was making his Team India debut, got his and the team’s first wicket when he forced Labuschagne to an inside edge onto the stumps. It was also the first time in six One Day games that the team has managed to pick a wicket in the first ten overs.
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Labuschagne’s opening partner Aaron Finch, however, was lucky with three escapes. He was dropped by Shikhar Dhawan at slips before narrowly surviving a run out chance as Hardik Pandya did not find the stumps. Bumrah failed to grasp onto a caught and bowled chance as Finch got his third 50-plus score this series. He was in attacking mode despite his charmed life and gave the team a solid platform. With Labuschagne and Steven Smith falling in quick succession, the responsibility was on Finch, and the skipper did not disappoint as he compiled a well-made 75 before falling to Ravindra Jadeja.
Cameron Green, who made his Australia debut in the game, got off to a good start, as did all-rounder Moises Henriques, but the duo could not capitalize, getting out in the 20s. The job was left to wicket-keeper Alex Carey and Glenn Maxwell to take the team over the line, and the two brought down the equation to 36 off 34, but wickets at the wrong time meant that the Indians crawled right back into the game. A suicidal run-out when Carey was on 38 ended the partnership of 52, and though Maxwell carried on his good form with his second fifty of the series, the task was improbable by the end. He did pile on some vital runs with Ashton Agar and managed 59 in 38 balls, but Bumrah got the better of him to push Australia deeper in trouble.
The Indian seamer, who did not have the best start in the first two games, seemed like he was at his best, as he troubled the rivals with his pace, yorkers and variations. He ended with figures of 2 for 43 in his 10 overs and was the most economical Indian bowler of the night, while Shardul Thakur was the most successful bowler with 3 for 51. His slower balls and his knuckle balls deceived the batters, and he was the key in the middle overs.
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Earlier, India finally won the toss and Virat Kohli did not hesitate to bat first. The Indian skipper was at his best and anchored the innings to perfection despite the fall of regular wickets around him. The Australian bowlers were once again on the mark with the new ball despite the absence of Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins, with Sean Abbott and Ashton Agar leading the charge. The former picked up a wicket in the first over that he bowled, getting Shikhar Dhawan off a good length delivery. Kohli and Shubman Gill, playing in place of Mayank Agarwal in the XI, steadied the ship with a partnership of 56 runs for the second wicket. The young gun was a treat to watch with excellent flicks and drives. However, the arrivals of the spinners troubled him as he fell while trying to sweep Agar.
Kohli, at the other end, however, was unfazed as he got to 12,000 ODI runs. He anchored the innings to perfection, even as Shreyas Iyer struggled against spin and KL Rahul was unable to break the shackles that had been laid down by Agar. The Aussie was on the mark with some tight line and lengths as the Indians struggled in the middle overs. Kohli, who looked unperturbed, was eventually out for a fine 63 off the bowling of Josh Hazlewood, who picked up the Indian captain for the third time in three games in the series.
At 192 for 5 in 40 overs, it needed a special effort from the Indians to reach a competitive target, which is exactly what Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja managed. The pair amassed 150 runs for the sixth wicket, with Pandya remaining unbeaten on 92, and Jadeja smashing an unbeaten 66. The dangerous players managed 76 in the final 30 balls of the innings, as India finished on 302 in their 50 overs.
The duo counterattacked and answered the critics as they left Australia reeling with quick singles, aesthetic shots and regular boundaries. The bad balls were punished as the bowlers from the home team lost the plot in the final 10 overs. Abbott, who had started off the game with an impressive spell, was the most expensive bowler of the night for the team, as he conceded 84 in his 10 overs. The target of 302 managed to be enough in the end, as Team India won their first ODI after six games.
Brief scores: India 302/5 in 50 overs (Virat Kohli 63, Hadrik Pandya 90*, Ravindra Jadeja 66*; Ashton Agar 2-44) beat Australia 289 in 49.3 overs (Aaron Finch 75, Alex Carey 38, Glenn Maxwell 59; Jasprit Bumrah 2-43, Shardul Thakur 3-51) by 13 runs.