Sydney: Young Manish Pandey struck a brilliant unbeaten 104 as India thwarted Australia's push for a clean-sweep with a record run chase to notch up a thrilling consolation six-wicket victory in the fifth and final cricket one-dayer in Sydney on Saturday.
Manish Pandey of India bats during the fourth one-day international cricket match between India and Australia in Sydney. Pic/AFP
Australia thus won the high-scoring series by 4-1 margin. Chasing a steep target of 331, India's batting rode on Pandey's maiden ODI ton and a superb opening stand of 123 between Rohit Sharma (99) and Shikhar Dhawan (78) to overhaul the score with just two balls to spare, setting up the record for the highest run chase against the home team on Australian soil.
After having bungled a similar chase in the previous match, the Indians made sure that they did not suffer any catastrophic collapse today with Pandey being the glue that held one end.
The visitors, after cruising along nicely at one stage, were left to pick 13 of the last over which was bowled by Mitchell Marsh. He bowled the first delivery wide as the equation came down to 12 off six balls.
Skipper Dhoni, who was struggling to middle the ball throughout the entire innings cleared the fence off a low full-toss bowled by Marsh but was out off the very next delivery leaving a tricky six runs to be scored off 4 deliveries.
Pandey, however kept his cool as he steered a wide yorker for a boundary to keep it down to 2 off 3 balls. He also completed a magnificent ton in the process. The win was accomplished when Pandey hit over extra cover region as vice-captain Virat Kohli rushed to the field to congratulate him. Pandey, hit eight fours and a six in his 81 ball knock.
Mitchell Marsh of Australia celebrates after scoring a century during the fourth one-day international cricket match between India and Australia in Sydney. Pic/AFP
Chasing a 5-0 whitewash, Australian looked on course for more but for the last two overs from debutant Jasprit Bumrah and Ishant Sharma, which got them just seven runs in an inconsequential match at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
Opener Warner laid the foundation with 122 off 113 balls, while Marsh remained unbeaten on a brisk 102 off 84 deliveries after India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni asked the home team to take first strike. This was the fourth time in the series Australia crossed the 300-plus mark, and Marsh's maiden ton in this format. Warner struck nine fours and three sixes, while found the fence nine times and cleared it twice.
Australia lost last match's centurion Aaron Finch in the first over to Ishant, following which Warner shared a half-century stand with the in-form skipper Steve Smith. Smith's dismissal to Bumrah, his maiden wicket, was followed quickly by those of George Bailey and Shaun Marsh.
Warner then steadied the ship by putting on a valuable 118 runs for the fifth wicket with Marsh at just seven runs an over. Having completed his century, a tired-looking Warner got out while trying to slash Ishant, managing to give a catch to an agile Ravindra Jadeja. Then came another crucial partnership of 85 runs for the sixth wicket between Marsh and Matthew Wade (36 off 27 balls), paving the way for another big total by the home side that has already chased down two 300-plus totals in the series so far.
The visitors made two changes, bringing in Manish Pandey for the injure Ajinkya Rahane, as also handing out a surprise debut to Bumrah, the youngster not even officially included in the ODI squad. He had arrived early to join up the T20 squad and was afforded this chance as Bhuvneshwar Kumar suffered a hairline fracture in his left thumb in Canberra, ruling him out of the T20I series as well. Australia too made two changes, with Shaun Marsh coming in for Glenn Maxwell and Scott Boland for Kane Richardson.
Earlier, Warner and Finch (6) got the proceedings underway, with Indian bowlers getting on top for the first time since the Perth ODI as Ishant (2-60) trapped Finch LBW in the very first over. Smith (28) put on 58 runs with Warner quickly even as Bumrah (2-40) was introduced into the attack in the 8th over and then Rishi Dhawan (1-74) was brought on in the 11th over. The dual moves worked as Australia lost quick wickets before reaching the 100-mark in the 19th over.
The cricket caravan now moves to Adelaide, where the first T20 International will be played on Republic Day.