New Delhi, March 13: A sublime century from in-form Usman Khawaja and a half-century from Peter Handscomb and later a comprehensive bowling effort helped Australia script a historic series win in India.
Having set a competitive 273 run target on a tough Ferozeshah Kotla track, Australia kept picking up wickets at regular intervals and defeated the hosts in the fifth and deciding ODI to clinch series 3-2 on Wednesday (March 13).
Batting first, Australia were off to a decent start and looked headed towards a 300-plus total but from a commanding 175/1, they slipped to 229/7 as Indian bowlers pulled things back brilliantly. However, late hittings from the lower order helped the tourists cross the 250-run mark.
India had a monumental task in front of them from the moment they stepped into the middle to chase as the last time a 250-plus score was chased down successfully in Delhi was way back in 1996.
Terrible start for India in the run chase:
Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma started India's response with the bat and it looked like Dhawan - the centurion from the last game - would play another fine knock. The southpaw, however, couldn't last long as he was dismissed in the fifth over itself for 12 while going for a drive off in-form Pat Cummins.
Cummins bowled a perfect line to Dhawan in the corridor of uncertainty which the opener ended up edging and wicketkeeper Alex Carey took a simple catch. India thus lost their first wicket when the scoreboard read 15.
Kohli departs cheaply:
Captain Kohli cleared his intent the moment he entered into the field as he opened his account with a boundary. The local boy revived India's innings with a 50-partnership with Rohit Sharma. He played some brilliant shots in his innings before Marcus Stoinis got the big fish for 20. Kohli was attempting a cut shot against the medium pacer but ended up nicking it and Carey had no trouble in pouching it. India thus lost their second wicket at 68.
Rishabh Pant, who was promoted at No. 4, failed to live up to the reputation as he was dismissed by Lyon for 16. Vijay Shankar - who was termed the only positive for India from this series - played reckless stroke off Adam Zampa after hitting him for a maximum on the previous delivery to be dismissed for 16.
Rohit in the meantime notched up his 41st ODI fifty but the right-handed batsman from Mumbai seemed struggling against Zampa before getting out stumped for 56. Ravindra Jadeja was out for a duck, stumped, in the same over as Rohit and pushed India on the mat.
Kedar-Bhuvneshwar show some resistance:
Later, Kedar Jadhav and Bhuvneshwar Kumar showed a resistance as they added 91 runs between them to ensure the hosts do not surrender without putting up a resistance. Bhuvneshwar and Kedar applied themselves brilliantly to keep the visitors on the tenterhooks. Eventually, the pressure of scoreboard kept mounting as Bhuvneshwar (46) and Kedar (44) departed off consecutive deliveries and whatever hopes Indian fans had of pulling this run chase off were gone.
The pacers later cleaned up India's tail to eventually wrap their innings on the final ball of the innings. India (237/10) thus lost the match by 35 overs and lost the series 3-2.
Finch-Khawaja pair gives Australia a flying start:
In-form opener Usman Khawaja and his skipper Aaron Finch gave the visitors a solid start after the visitors opted to bat first. The duo kept dealing in boundaries and denied their wickets to India's premium pace trio of Mohammed Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah.
The duo forged their third fifty-plus partnership in the series as Australia reached 52 without any loss in the first powerplay. Khawaja started the proceedings positively and Finch too joined him in dominating Indian pacers.
Jadeja draws first blood for India:
Captain Virat Kohli tried all four key bowlers i.e. Shami, Bhuvneshwar, Bumrah and Kuldeep and all of them failed to break the opening stand. Finally, the Indian skipper had to introduce Ravindra Jadeja in the 15th over and the Baroda all-rounder did the trick in his very first over. Jadeja cleaned up Finch with an absolute ripper for 27.
Another solid stand between Khawaja-Handscomb:
Peter Handscomb stepped into the middle after Finch's dismissal and the centurion from the previous game look at ease from the moment he walked. Together with Khawaja, he kept the partnership going and played second fiddle to dangerous looking Khawaja. The duo stitched another valuable partnership between them and frustrated Indian spinners.
Khawaja slams third ton in a gap of 3 innings:
Continuing his rich vein of form, Khawaja notched up his second ODI century. The southpaw, who already is the leading run-scorer in this series, brought up his second ton in 3 innings. Khawaja ended up scoring 363 runs in this is series, second-most by an Australian in a 5-ODI series. David Warner, with 386 runs, tops the table. Khawaja was dismissed soon after by Bhuvneshwar Kumar as Virat Kohli took a sharp catch to end fine innings.
Mini collapse for Australia:
Following Khawaja's dismissal, the Aussies witnessed a mini-collapse as Glenn Maxwell (1) and set Peter Handscomb (52) departed in quick succession. Maxwell was caught by Kohli at the cover and Jadeja got his second wicket of the innings. Mohammed Shami was operated by skipper from the other end and the speedster got rid of dangerous looking Handscomb for 52. The right-handed batsman edged Shami to be pouched comfortably by Rishabh Pant.
Ashton Turner (20), Marcus Stoinis (20) and Alex Carey (3) were also dismissed in quick succession as Australia were reeling at 229/7 but a 21-ball 29 from Jhye Richardson and 8-ball 15 from Pat Cummins helped the visitors score 42 runs from the final 4 overs as the Aussies reached to a competitive 272/9 in set 50 overs. Richardson and Cummins played some attacking shots in the final overs to propel the visitors to a decent total.