Australian leg-spinner Adam Zampa picked four wickets while left-arm spinner Ashton Agar chipped in with two scalps to help lead Australia to a 21-run victory over India in the series decider at the M A Chidambaram Stadium on Wednesday night. With the win, the visitors also bag the three match ODI series 2-1.
After posting 269 in 49 overs on a slow pitch where strokeplay wasn't easy, Zampa and Agar helped Australia fight back in the middle overs to break the back of India's batting. Even though Mitchell Starc went wicketless, the rest of the bowlers, along with fiery fielding from the team and spot-on fielding placements led to India being bundled out for 248 in 49.1 overs.
Despite India having a 65-run opening partnership, the hosts lost four wickets for 43 runs after Virat Kohli and KL Rahul had put on 69 runs for the fourth wicket. But after Rahul and Kohli fell, the chase went downhill and India ended up on the losing side, which meant they lost an ODI series at home after four years.
With the pitch offering not much help for the fast bowlers, Shubman Gill took a liking to the pace from Mitchell Starc. A whipped six over deep mid-wicket was followed by his trademark short-arm jab and two leaning drives to pick three boundaries off the left-arm pacer.
Rohit Sharma joined the boundary-hitting party in the seventh over with an elegant loft over long-off for six against Starc, followed by a pre-mediated scoop and pull off Sean Abbott to get two boundaries. After he lofted Adam Zampa over long-on for six, Rohit couldn't keep a swipe down and was caught at deep square leg off Abbott.
Three overs later, Gill missed a drifting in delivery from Zampa and was struck on pad first, with Australia getting him out after taking the review. Kohli took time, before pulling Agar off backfoot through mid-wicket and followed it up with a beautiful inside-out loft over extra cover for six.
Rahul then hit India's first boundary after 49 balls with a smash over Zampa's head for four, bringing up fifty of his partnership with Kohli. When Starc pitched it full, Rahul was quick to slam it down the ground for six and one ball later, unfurled a loft over extra cover for four.
Just when Rahul had started to shift gears, Zampa took him out in the 28th over as the right-hander never got the elevation on a googly and toe-ended loft to long-on. In the next over, Axar Patel was run out after facing four balls, by a brilliant diving throw from Steve Smith at mid-wicket.
After Kohli reached his fifty in 61 balls, Hardik Pandya got off the mark with a pulled six off Abbott, followed by a punch through extra cover for four. Agar produced a twist in the 36th over - Kohli chipped a drive to long-off.
It was immediately followed by beating Suryakumar Yadav on the cut with a skiddy delivery to get him out for a first-ball duck for the third time in the series. Pandya and Jadeja kept India in the contest with a 33-run partnership as Australia put the pressure on the duo.
With the asking rate climbing and pressure building up, Hardik tried to slog across the line off Zampa in the 44th over. But the ball took the leading edge and Smith took the catch at cover. In the next over, Jadeja danced down the pitch to slog across the line against Zampa, but sliced to backward point.
Mohammed Shami shined with a six and four off Marcus Stoinis. But the all-rounder had the last laugh by rattling Shami's off-stump. A mix-up between Kuldeep Yadav and Mohammed Siraj resulted in run-out of the former, bringing the Indian innings to an end.
Earlier, fast-bowling all-rounder Hardik Pandya and left-arm spinner Kuldeep Yadav picked three wickets each as India bowled out Australia for 269 in 49 overs in the ODI series decider.
Electing to bat first, Australia seemed to have read the conditions well by maximising the powerplay. But despite getting into double figures, barring Steve Smith falling for a two-ball duck, none of the batters could make a big score.
A majority of their batters lost their wickets on a slow pitch where shot-making wasn't easy, especially of aerial shots. Hardik picked 3/44 while Kuldeep got sharp turn to take 3/56. The duo were supported by Mohammed Siraj and Axar Patel taking two wickets each, while Ravindra Jadeja bowled tight lines while conceding only 34 runs in his ten uninterrupted overs.
After Travis Head drove Mohammed Shami down the ground for four in the opening over, Marsh began to dominate the Indian bowlers. He was quick to pick lengths from Mohammed Siraj and flicked him through mid-wicket with perfection for two boundaries.
After whipping Shami over the same region for six, Marsh again drove off Siraj twice on both sides of the 'v' for boundaries. Shami came under attack again when Head whipped for six, while Marsh clipped for four through the leg-side.
When Axar Patel overpitched on the first ball of eighth over, Head lofted down the ground for six, followed by Marsh bringing up Australia's fifty with a four thumped through extra cover. Head looked in great touch, pulling and upper-cutting off Siraj for two fours.
But on the fifth ball of 11th over, Head was caught at deep third man off Hardik after Shubman Gill dropped him at deep square leg just two balls before. In his next over, he extracted a drive from Steve Smith and the outside edge went behind to KL Rahul.
Hardik had his third wicket in three overs when Marsh looked to drive a length ball outside off-stump, but inside edged to the stumps. David Warner, batting at number four for the first time in ODIs, tried to loft Kuldeep over deep mid-wicket, but the ball turned and took the leading edge to long-off in the 25th over.
Four overs later, Labuschagne too fell to Kuldeep when he never got close to pitch of the ball and holed out to long-off. Carey and Stoinis were proactive in their sixth-wicket stand, where the duo relied a lot on strike rotation and used a lot of reverse sweeps as well as slamming boundaries over long-on.
Axar broke the partnership in the 37th over when Stoinis went for a loft, but the bat turned on impact and took the inner edge to long-on. Two overs later, Carey looked to defend against a leg-break from Kuldeep which was pitched around leg-stump. But the ball spun away sharply to hit the top of off-stump, leaving everyone bewildered.
With Australia's batting going deep, Abbott pulled Hardik for four, before unfurling a superb reverse sweep off Kuldeep to pick another boundary. After slamming Axar over long-on for a big six, Ashton Agar joined the party by smacking another maximum over the same region.
But Patel ended the joyride on last ball of the 45th over by castling Abbott, who was shaping up for a swipe across the line. Agar departed in the next over by pulling a Siraj bouncer straight to deep mid-wicket. Adam Zampa and Mitchell Starc hit a boundary each, before Siraj had the latter caught at deep square-leg to end Australia's innings in 49 overs.