INDORE: Hardik Pandya did no harm to his fast increasing reputation as a quality allrounder, playing a commanding knock as India wrapped up the ODI series with consummate ease.
Setting India a target of 294, Steve Smith’s side must have given themselves a glimpse of hope after Virat Kohli and Kedar Jadhav’s quick wickets, but Pandya with his 78 (72b, 5×4, 4×6), had other plans. When he got out, he had done enough damage as India completed the chase with 13 balls and five wickets intact – a win which gave them an unassailable 3-0 series lead here.
On 41, Pandya gave the Australians an opportunity. He tried to hit Ashton Agar out of the ground, but ended up skying it. However, Smith, running backwards, could not hold on to the difficult chance. Pandya played sensibly thereafter, in company of Manish Pandey (36, 32b, 6×4). The pair added 78 in 72 balls, a winning stand after the opening pair of Rohit Sharma (71, 62b, 6×4, 4×6) and Ajinkya Rahane (70, 76b, 9×4) had laid the foundation with a 139-run partnership.
Earlier, Aaron Finch’s eighth ODI hundred (124, 125b, 12×4, 5×6) had given Australia a solid platform to post a big total after they chose to bat. The visitors, however, messed it up yet again. Two set batsmen, 224 on the board for the loss of just one wicket and 12 overs to go, Australia were all set for a death-overs assault. India conceded only 87 in the last 15 overs, a brilliant effort, considering the nature of the wicket. In the end, they had to settle with 293/6 in their 50 overs – a below par score on this wicket.
The pair of Finch and Smith (63, 71b, 5×4) was batting freely during their 154-run second wicket stand. However, wrist spinners, Kuldeep Yadav and Yazuvendra Chahal again produced magic. Kuldeep accounted for both set batsmen – Finch and Smith – while Chahal again got the dangerous Glenn Maxwell stumped. Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar did the death over job with aplomb as the Australian middle order crumbled again.
The return of Finch seemed to help the Australian cause. He and David Warner made sure Australia didn’t lose early wickets. Flinch hit a glorious back foot cover drive off Bumrah to mark his return and then flicked the same bowler to deep fine leg for another boundary.
Bhuvneshwar and Bumrah did a decent job in good batting conditions. Just when it looked Australians were looking to shift gears, Pandya castled Warner with a beautiful off-cutter. Smith made sure Aussies didn’t lose the momentum.
Finch soon completed his fifty hitting two boundaries off Chahal. The right-hander went berserk after completing his fifty and hit some lusty blow of both Chahal and Kuldeep.