India last night completed a resounding comeback from their thrashing in Mumbai to thump Australia and win the ODI series 2-1.
The hosts were facing heavy scrutiny from home media and fans after their extraordinary ten-wicket loss in the series opener, when Australia smashed 0-258 while chasing.
As elite sides often do, they rebounded with vigour to comfortably defeat Australia in the final two matches. Last night India bowled tidily to limit Australia to a below-par total of 286, before Rohit Sharma (119) and Virat Kohli (89) ran amok.
While Australia’s spinners Adam Zampa (1-44 from ten overs) and Ashton Agar (1-38 from ten overs) managed to build terrific pressure, it was regularly released by star quicks Pat Cummins (0-64 from seven overs) and Mitchell Starc (0-66 from nine overs). That pace pair had a nightmare match, bleeding boundary after boundary.
So vulnerable where they to Rohit and Kohli that it forced skipper Aaron Finch to use part-time spinners in himself and Marnus Labuschagne, who together went for 20 from their two overs.
Quite incredibly, Sharma’s ton was his eighth against Australia from just 40 ODIs, while Kohli also resumed his domination of the Aussies in this format.
Earlier, a Steve Smith gem formed the bedrock of an otherwise underwhelming innings by Australia. The tourists were a mess early on after David Warner (3) was caught behind off the bowling of Mohammad Shami (4-63) and skipper Aaron Finch (19) was run out in a shocking mix-up with Smith.
That mistake left Australia 2-46 in the ninth over and handed a huge task to rookie batsman Marnus Labuschagne, playing just his second ODI.
Yet Labuschagne (54) once again looked at ease from the start of his innings. He caressed a cover drive to the boundary off sharp quick Navdeep Saini, soon after punched left-arm spinner Kuldeep Yadav past cover for four, and then began working the ones and twos nicely.
Smith batted in a similarly controlled manner at the other end as this pair created a good platform for the Aussie middle order with a 127-run stand.
When in-form wicketkeeper-batsman Alex Carey (35) started motoring Australia were on 231 with 51 balls remaining, and were a chance of making 320.
But after Carey was beaten in the flight and caught at deep cover against Yadav, Australia’s weak middle order was exposed for the second straight match.
Ashton Turner (4) looked scratchy from the get go and Ashton Agar (11* from 13 balls) was unable to generate any power at the death.
While Smith’s hundred ensured Australia made a solid total, their batting line-up looks woefully thin after Carey at five.
The Indian bowlers sliced through the tourists’ lower-to-middle order with minimal resistance. Shami was clinical in his execution of yorkers, while Jasprit Bumrah (0-38 from ten overs) choked Australia.
They built upon the quality work of left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja (2-44 from ten overs), who restricted the Aussies through the middle overs.
Australia will now have a month’s rest before beginning back-to-back limited overs tours of South Africa and New Zealand. In the space of just four weeks Australia will play nine white-ball matches – three T20Is and three ODIs in South Africa, followed by three ODIs in New Zealand.
The run of nine ODIs away from home in India, SA and NZ seems a tad superfluous in a year when Australia are hosting the T20 World Cup.