Rohit Sharma’s century trumps Steven Smith’s as India take series

India 289 for 3 (Sharma 119, Kohli 89) beat Australia 286 for 9 (Smith 131, Labuschagne 54, Shami 4-63, Jadeja 2-44, Bumrah 0-38) by 7 wickets

Without their allrounder going into the series, losing their in-form opening batsman to injury during the series decider, India found a way to win the three-match ODI series against Australia despite losing all three tosses. Australia’s decision to bat first left Virat Kohli smiling ear to ear, his bowlers only widened that smile by keeping Australia down to 286 despite a Steven Smith century, but the chase was not your regular stroll that the scoreline suggested. On a testing, slow pitch, Rohit Sharma scored a special century to negate the challenge.

In the final equation, on a pitch that spinners from both sides were a threat, the two main quicks from either side proved to be the difference. Jasprit Bumrah was stellar in conceding just 38 in his 10 overs, and Mohammed Shami took wickets with the new ball and old. Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc, though, were a big letdown for Australia, conceding 130 runs in 16 wicktless overs between them, which meant when the spinners and Josh Hazlewood bowled well, Sharma and Kohli were not under any asking-rate pressure.

Australia’s team management had stayed at the ground till late on match eve to know dew wouldn’t play a big role. Combined with a dry pitch, and their own suspect middle order, they wanted runs on board. Shami dealt those hopes a big blow in the first exchanges despite a wayward – eight wides in first three overs – by both of India’s opening bowlers.

In the fourth over, Shami got the ball to shape up to swing back into David Warner, but leave him upon pitching, taking the edge. This was a dismissal from an opening hour of a Test match. Bumrah’s edge over Aaron Finch was apparent again with two runs off 13 legal deliveries. Even when India removed Bumrah after just three overs, the edginess remained, especially with Navdeep Saini bowling the eighth over for just two runs.

In the ninth over, Finch went for perhaps a highly risky single to Jadeja at point, but Smith was the bigger culprit in not trusting the call from the non-striker. The run-out left Finch furious, and Smith with a big task of shepherding the suspect middle order. Except that he was met in the middle by his clone Marnus Labuschagne, who has quickly shown he doesn’t need much shepherding. Yet, had Kuldeep Yadav collected a slowish throw cleanly he might have run Labuschagne out to make it 57 for 3.

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