IND vs AUS – ODI Match 5: Rohit masterclass steers India to 4-1 triumph

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October 1, 2017

Brief Scorecard: India 243 for 3 (Rohit 125, Rahane 61) beat Australia 242 for 9 (Warner 53, Stoinis 46, Axar 3-38) by seven wickets

October 1, 2017

Brief Scorecard: India 243 for 3 (Rohit 125, Rahane 61) beat Australia 242 for 9 (Warner 53, Stoinis 46, Axar 3-38) by seven wickets

NAGPUR – Having already surrendered the series, Australia would have hoped to end the One-Day International-leg of their limited-overs tour against India on a high. But their hope wasn’t met by determination as their trial against spin continued in the fifth and final ODI in Nagpur on Sunday (October 1). If that wasn’t enough, Australia’s bowlers watched in utter helplessness as Rohit Sharma produced a mesmeric 125 off 109 balls to set up India’s seven-wicket win.

Rohit was in exceptional touch as he went from watchfully circumspect to breathtakingly brilliant in quick time, bringing up his 14th ODI century as India chased the 243-run target in 42.5 overs and ended the series with a 4-1 scoreline and the No.1 rank on the ICC’s ODI charts.

But before Rohit’s fireworks it was India’s spinners, led by Axar Patel’s 3 for 38, who called the shots to restrict Australia to 242 for 9. The long and sloping boundaries of the Vidharbha Cricket Association Stadium meant the spinners, who had a chance to flight the ball, always had a distinct advantage. But it was the dry and slow relaid pitch that had them licking their lips. That Australia could get to the sub-par total was mainly due to a 66-run opening stand between David Warner and Aaron Finch and an 87-run fifth-wicket partnership between Marcus Stoinis and Travis Head.

Axar was well supported by Kedar Jadhav, who bowled his full quota of ten overs for the first time in his 33-ODI career and ended with 1 for 48, and Kuldeep Yadav, who had no scalps to his name but stemmed the flow of runs well enough.

India’s chase began positively with Ajinkya Rahane slamming Pat Cummins down the ground, straight through mid-on. Rohit took 14 balls to get off the mark, but two brilliant off-driven fours off Cummins were all he needed to get going. Both Rahane and Rohit adopted a selective approach, dealing only in boundaries as Nathan Coulter-Nile kept them in check during his first spell of 4-0-10-0.

Irrespective of the bowling changes, Rohit treated the full house to a wonderful display of batsmanship. Rahane wasn’t too far behind, coaxing and cajoling the ball into gaps, especially against Adam Zampa, as the Mumbai duo shepherded the chase in a splendid fashion.

Even as the Indian spinners thrived under the conditions, their Australian counterparts failed to keep a check on the scoring. While the scoreboard didn’t exactly rattle along at breakneck speed, Rohit switched gears effortlessly to bring up his fifty off 52 balls. Rahane too joined the fun, bringing up his half-century off 63 balls, and India’s third consecutive century opening stand. Matthew Wade fluffed a rare false shot from Rahane who was on 56, but Australia finally had a breakthrough when the batsman shuffled across a fuller delivery from Coulter-Nile to be caught in front.

The Coulter-Nile v Kohli subplot was on straightaway, but Rohit continued unflustered, exhibiting his wide array of shots. He soon brought up his century in style – a short-arm jab off Coulter-Nile that soared over the midwicket fence. Kohli, who was peppered with some short stuff from Coulter-Nile and Cummins, was happy to play second fiddle, nurdling the ball around, haring between the wickets and easing his way into the 30s.

There was no stopping the Rohit onslaught though; he raced to 125, a knock studded with 11 fours and five sixes, before Zampa finally got rid of him on the pull thus ending a 99-run second-wicket stand. Zampa sent back Kohli (39 off 55 balls) two balls later, but Manish Pandey and Jadhav completed the formalities with 43 balls to spare.

Earlier, Australia had begun well after opting to bat, as Warner and Finch targeted Jasprit Bumrah, who was guilty of bowling too short to the in-form openers. The duo made the most of it, slamming seven boundaries between them. Looking for a breakthrough, Kohli brought on Hardik Pandya, who vindicated the decision as Finch holed out to Bumrah. Bringing Kuldeep on from the other end tightened the screws further as the boundaries dried up and the scoring rate dipped drastically.

Some more spin, in the form of Axar and Jadhav, merely piled on to Australia’s woes. And India added to the pressure through some sharp fielding in the ring even as Warner and Steven Smith struggled to rotate strike. Jadhav foxed Smith with a slow and low delivery that the Australia captain missed completely and was trapped plumb in front.

Warner, meanwhile, was struggling with the heat and it was only a matter of time before the increasing discomfort led to his fall. The Australia opener finally perished, hitting a tired shot off Axar that was brilliantly grabbed by Pandey. Axar struck again in his next over with a touch of turn and bounce as Peter Handscomb attempted a slog sweep that went straight up to find Rahane running back from slip and holding on.

Axar continued his good work, even finding an edge off Stoinis (46 off 63 balls) that slipped away from MS Dhoni for four. At the other end, Jadhav played more than a support act as both Stoinis and Head (42 off 59 balls) were circumspect to begin with.

The first six of Australia’s innings came only in the 32nd over, when Stoinis lofted a Jadhav delivery over long-on soon after sweeping through the fine-leg boundary to spoil the part-time offspinner’s figures in the end.

Having withstood the spin pressure early on, the duo brought up a half-century stand off 64 balls. Stoinis struck a couple of fours off Kuldeep, while Head rotated the strike and occasionally found the fence. The 200-run mark was finally crossed in the 42nd over, and Axar saw the back of Head with a fuller delivery that sneaked through the batsman’s defences. Australia’s hopes of a late flourish came crashing when Bumrah had Stoinis lbw – a decision that was challenged before being found to be hitting the stumps.

Australia could only manage 31 runs in their last five overs – losing Matthew Wade, James Faulkner and Coulter-Nile in the process – an effort that mirrored their campaign so far.


Courtesy/Source: Wisden India

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