Australia beat India by 66 runs in Rajkot (BCCI Photo)
Australia won the final ODI by 66 runs but India pocketed the 3-match series 2-1 before entering the much-awaited ICC World Cup 2023.
Australia avoided a whitewash with a 66-run consolation win against India on Wednesday in Rajkot. Chasing a challenging 353, the Indian middle-order crumbled under pressure as they were bowled out for 286 in the final over. However, India pocketed the 3-match series 2-1 before entering the much-awaited ICC World Cup 2023.
India were cruising along at the beginning as skipper Rohit Sharma provided a blistering start and smashed the Australian bowlers all around the park. But soon Glenn Maxwell, who returned to the side after recovering from an injury, plied his trade to push the hosts on back foot
Maxwell returned commendable figures of 4 for 40 in 10 overs and bagged the Player of the Match.
Skipper Rohit Sharma (81) and Kohli struck fifties to provide the middle order with a perfect platform in the big chase, but the rest floundered to hand Australia the advantage.
Rohit clobbered six sixes and five fours to race to 81 from 57 balls and recorded his ninth fifty against Australia and 53rd overall, while Kohli, who looked good for his 48th ODI ton had to settle for 66th half-century.
The two batters put on 70 for the second wicket and took India close to the 150-run mark by the 21st over, but after Rohit and Kohli were dismissed, the others fumbled collectively.
Maxwell accounted for Washington Sundar (18) and then held onto a stunning reflex catch of Rohit, had Kohli mistime a pull-shot and fooled Shreyas Iyer (48) with a beauty to mark an impressive return after a six-month-long injury layoff.
Josh Hazlewood took 2/42 and Cameron Green claimed 2/30 to provide ideal support for Maxwell.
Despite a set platform to take the mantle, India’s middle-order stuttered which allowed Australia to grab control. KL Rahul added 52 runs with Iyer for the fourth wicket but fell to Starc after a 30-ball 26 and Suryakumar Yadav (8) pulled one short from Hazlewood to Maxwell.
Ravindra Jadeja scored 35 from 36 balls (3x4s, 1x6s) but had no batting partner left to try avoiding the inevitable.
Earlier, Mitchell Marsh (96) headlined Australia’s best batting show with David Warner, Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne helping themselves to attacking half-centuries during a commanding performance to break a five-ODI losing streak.
The two teams will now play a couple of warm-up games before meeting again in 10 days’ time for the tournament opener in Chennai on October 8.
(With PTI Inputs)