Ranchi, March 8: Mahendra Singh Dhoni's return to his home ground Ranchi, which could very well be his last international match, proved a damp squib as Australia edged India by 32 runs in the third ODI here on Friday (March 8).
Chasing a target of 314, India were bundled out for 281 with 10 balls to spare despite their captain Virat Kohli slammed his career's 41st ODI century.
India were off to a disastrous start in the run chase as they lost their top-three in the first powerplay. The poor form of openers Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma kept pestering India. Dhawan was dismissed for 1 by Jhye Richardson while Rohit - who was looking in decent touch - was trapped LBW by in-form Pat Cummins.
Glenn Maxwell took a brilliant catch to continue Dhawan's miseries as the southpaw played a loose stroke. Dhawan averages just 11 in this series and his form remains a concern for the team.
Rohit was trapped in front by Cummins but the umpire denied his appeal. Australia captain Aaron Finch went upstairs to review it. The decision to take the DRS paid-off as there wasn't any contact between the bat and ball and the hawk-eye ticked all three red boxes to rule in favour of the bowler. Rohit thus walked back towards the pavilion for 14.
Meanwhile, Ambati Rayudu dismissed for 2 by a ripper from Cummins. Like Rohit and Shikhar, Rayudu's poor form in this series continued and it will be interesting to see if team management tests someone else at No. 4 in the remaining two ODIs.
Later, local boy MS Dhoni and captain Kohli revived the Indian innings as they were 27/3 at one stage. Dhoni and Kohli rotated the strike and ensured their team doesn't lose any wicket in the powerplay.
Dhoni started in his own trademark style as he took his time to settle down and just when it seemed that the 37-year-old is getting in his zone, Adam Zampa cleaned the veteran cricketer up for 26. Dhoni couldn't believe how he missed that ball which chopped onto his stumps.
Later Kohli - who slammed a match-winning century in the previous game - followed it up with another sensational ton. The Indian skipper slammed his career's 41st ODI century, 8th against Australia, and 19th as captain. The Delhi cricketer showcased yet another fine display of batting and ensured his team remained in the hunt as long as he stayed into the middle.
Kohli also completed 4000 ODI runs as captain in 63 innings and surpassed the record previously owned by South African swashbuckler AB de Villiers (77 innings).
His fifty-plus partnership with Kedar Jadhav kept the pressure on the Australians but Jadhav attempted a sweep shot off Zampa and paid the price as the ball crashed directly in front of his pads. Jadhav was dismissed for 26.
Kohli switched gears after completing his ton and started adding runs quickly before getting dismissed for being over-ambitious. Having smashed two boundaries already Kohli looked to convert it into a big over and missed the line of the ball. It was the fifth occasion when Zampa got the better of Kohli.
Vijay Shankar (32) and Ravindra Jadeja (24) made some contributions with the bat but they failed to take their side home as Aussie bowlers showed kept things tight.
Zampa (3-70), Pat Cummins (3-37), and Jhye Richardson (3-37) picked three wickets apiece and they were brilliantly complemented by their fielders.
Earlier, Usman Khawaja slammed his career's maiden ODI ton while captain Aaron Finch announced his return to form with the bat as the duo forged an opening partnership of 193. Australia scored 313 for the loss of 5 wickets in the stipulated 50 overs after India captain Kohli invited the tourists to bat first.
The opening pair of Khawaja and Finch constructed their innings brilliantly as they guided their team to the highest total on Ranchi pitch, that looks conducive of batting.
Finch (93) was slightly unlucky to have missed out on a well-deserved century as the Aussie captain paced his innings well. The right-handed batsman started cautiously and attacked every Indian bowler after settling down into the middle. His body language was positive and made the Indian bowlers toil hard for his wicket. He was trapped in front by Kuldeep Yadav in the 32nd over to the dismay of the Australian dressing room.
Khawaja, on the other hand, looked fluent with the bat as he played strokes all-round the park to notch up his career's maiden ODI century. The southpaw - who was dropped by Shikhar Dhawan early in the innings - made the Indians pay for their mistakes. Indians were bit sloppy in the field today till the 40th over.
Kuldeep was the pick of the bowlers for India as he returned with 3 for 64 from his quota of 10 overs. Strike pacers Mohammed Shami (1/52) and Jasprit Bumrah (0/53) couldn't manage to get those early breakthroughs with the new ball which helped the visitors post a challenging total on the board.
Ravindra Jadeja (0/64) failed to get any breakthrough with the ball in the middle overs but his brilliant direct-hit and MS Dhoni's magic with the gloves effected a brilliant Glenn Maxwell run out. Maxwell was looking dangerous before he was dismissed for 47.
At one stage the Australians were looking towards posting in excess of 330 but credit to the Indian bowlers who pulled things back in the death overs. However, a quickfire 38-ball 50 partnership between Marcus Stoinis (31 off 26) and Alex Carey (21 off 17) guided the team to a competitive total.