India batters succumb to Aussie spinners Zampa (4-45) and Agar (2-41) to fall short of 269-run target by 21; inconsistent hosts lose series 1-2
Australia’s Adam Zampa (third from left) celebrates an India wicket with teammates in the third ODI at Chepauk yesterday. Pic/AFP
A proud home record was tamely surrendered at the MA Chidambaram Stadium on Wednesday night, Australia crowning their remarkable comeback on this tour of India by surging to a 2-1 triumph in the three-match One-Day International series. In total disarray after the second of four Tests in New Delhi a little over a month back, the visitors have been on a roll since. Victory in the third Test in Indore showcased their mettle and, as the tour progressed, they grew from strength to strength.
Not surprising at all
It was, therefore, no surprise to see them beat India at their own game in the decisive ODI. A handsome win by 21 runs on a slow, dry surface that assisted spin and was exploited handsomely by Ashton Agar and Adam Zampa meant Australia had consigned India to their first bilateral home series loss in any format since April 2019, thus interrupting a staggering run of 26 series without defeat.
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Important toss to win
Steve Smith, whose captaincy has clearly rejuvenated the Australians, won an important toss and promptly opted to make the most of the best batting conditions of the match. Openers Travis Head and Mitchell Marsh responded with another bruising salvo, and even though Hardik Pandya returned India into the contest with wickets in each of his first three overs, Australia always had their noses in front.
Despite not a single batsman touching 50, they’d reached a more than competitive 269, courtesy a string of handy contributions and a significant wagging of the tail that produced 66 for the last four wickets. India needed to bat with purpose, common sense and intelligence.
Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill took the cue from their opening counterparts during a breezy opening alliance, denying bogeyman Mitchell Starc early success. But once they fell within 12 runs of each other, the innings became a strange tale of hit or miss. Long pockets of strokelessness were followed by brief spells of big blows, but even so, India were very much in the mix when Virat Kohli and KL Rahul, pushed up to No. 4 instead of Suryakumar Yadav, added 69 for the third wicket.
Like many of the Aussie middle-order batsmen, Rahul fell trying one big stroke too many. The move to push Axar Patel up to No. 5 backfired largely because Kohli was ball-watching and culpable in his partner’s run out, after which his own game went terribly downhill.
Pandya fights on
Pandya started in brilliant fashion but was left waging a solitary battle with Kohli losing fluency, the hapless Suryakumar falling for a third straight first-ball duck –this time to left-arm spinner Agar, trying to cut—and Ravindra Jadeja hardly laying bat on ball. Once he perished with 52 needed, it was just a matter of when rather than whether.
Australia 269 all out in 49 overs (M Marsh 47, A Carey 38, T Head 33; H Pandya 3-44, K Yadav 3-56, M Siraj 2-37, A Patel 2-57) beat India 248 all out in 49.1 overs (V Kohli 54, H Pandya 40; A Zampa 4-45, A Agar 2-41) by 21 runs