A gritty all-round performance from India ensured that they avoided a series whitewash, winning the third ODI against Australia by 13 runs at the Manuka Oval on Wednesday (December 2).
While many doubted them after already having lost the series, the Virat Kohli-led Indian side mounted a strong comeback into this full-fledged tour – the series ending 2-1.
India made four changes to their playing XI, bringing in Shubman Gill, Shardul Thakur, Kuldeep Yadav and T Natarajan all coming into the side – in a desperate bid to turnaround their fortunes.
Left-arm-quick T Natarajan made his international debut in the game after achieving stardom in IPL 2020.
Virat Kohli won the toss and opted to bat first. India lost Shikhar Dhawan early, after a soft dismissal - the southpaw hammering one straight to the cover fielder.
Kohli and Gill then stitched a 56-run stand for the second wicket before the youngster, Gill, was trapped Lbw by Agar for 33. Kohli, however, completed 12,000 runs in ODI’s as he took his 23rd run.
Kohli became just the 6th player in the history of the game to complete 12,000 runs in ODI’s. He also broke Sachin Tendulkar’s record of being the fastest player to reach the 12,000 mark – doing so in just his 242nd innings (251st match).
While the skipper tied up one end, both Shreyas Iyer and KL Rahul departed in quick succession, bringing Hardik Pandya to the crease.
Kohli continued on his good form from the last game and completed his half-century but then Josh Hazlewood dismissed him for the third consecutive time in the series. Kohli made 63 (off 78 balls).
The duo of Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja then joined forces and completely turned the tides of the game. With the score reading 152/5, the two put on a show for the ages, engaging in a scintillating 150-run stand for the sixth wicket.
While the in-form Pandya was timing the ball well, Jadeja really struggled at first – loitering at 15 off 31 balls. But then he got going as well and India scored 86 runs from the final five overs – taking them to a very healthy total of 302/5. This was also India’s highest ever sixth wicket partnership against Australia.
Pandya finished at his highest ever ODI score of 92* (off 76 balls) while Jadeja remained unbeaten on 66 (off 50 balls).
In reply, T Natarajan, with his maiden international wicket – provided the opening breakthrough, removing the makeshift opener Labuschagne.
Back to back centurion Steve Smith couldn’t be third time lucky as Shardul Thakur dismissed him caught behind for 7. India would have had their third in the form of Aussie skipper Aaron Finch but Shikhar Dhawan dropped a sitter off Bumrah’s bowling.
India were made to lick their wounds as Finch scored an imposing 75 (off 82 balls). The wickets kept tumbling at the other end with Moises Henriques and debutant Cameron Green hardly troubling the scoreboard.
Finch too fell finally as his luck ran out, getting holed down in the deep off Jadeja’s bowling – bringing Maxwell and Alex Carey to the crease.
The duo brought Australia right into the game with a gritty partnership. Carey was run-out on 38 but Maxwell continued his rampaging form. Maxwell completed his third half-century on the trot but then got cleaned up by a Bumrah special yorker.
Australia then lost two wickets in two balls – losing both Sean Abbott and Ashton Agar to hand India the game.
Hardik Pandya was awarded the ‘Man of the Match’ award while Steve Smith got the ‘Man of the Series’ award. Australia won the three match series 2-1.