Australia clinches series
Zampa, Agar, Marsh star in visitor’s 21-run win over India in series-deciding third ODI.
CHENNAI: The fans who packed the MA Chidambaram Stadium here on Wednesday returned home disappointed after Australia recorded a 2-1 series victory over India with a 21-run win in the third and final match.
Spin twins Adam Zampa and Ashton Agar, who combined for six wickets, made merry on a Chepauk track that assisted the tweakers as Australia bundled India out for 248 after the host was set a target of 270 to clinch the series.
On a surface where stroke-making proved difficult against the slow bowlers, opener Mitchell Marsh ensured the tourist began the match on a bright note by taking on the India speedsters.
Australia was off to a blazing start as Marsh (47 off 47 balls, 8 fours, 1 six) and his opening partner Travis Head (33 off 31 balls, 4 fours, 2 sixes) treated the beginning of the third ODI as an extension of the second match, in which they scored at a blistering pace to knock off the 118-run winning target in just 11 overs.
The visiting team persisted with the combination of Marsh and Head at the top even after the return of long-serving opening batter David Warner, with the decision turning out to be a good one.
The duo went after the India new-ball pairing of Mohammed Shami and Mohammed Siraj, raising the team 50 in just the eighth over.
But, Hardik Pandya (3/44), introduced into the attack in the 11th over, put the brakes on the scoring rate with a three-wicket burst.
After being handed a lifeline on 27 – courtesy of a drop from Shubman Gill – Head flashed hard only to find the third-man fielder. His dismissal brought an end to the opening partnership that was worth 68 off 65 deliveries.
Hardik continued to be the chief tormentor, bagging three wickets in as many overs to leave Australia at 85 for three. Stand-in captain Steve Smith (0) did not trouble the scorers after his outside-edge flew straight to wicketkeeper KL Rahul while the in-form Marsh got a thick inside-edge that was good enough to disturb his stumps.
Warner (23), in at No.4, and Marnus Labuschagne (28) provided a semblance of calm during their 40-run stand for the fourth wicket, but did not convert their starts as they fell to the guile of left-arm chinaman Kuldeep Yadav (3/56).
Kuldeep’s third victim was wicketkeeper Alex Carey (38), who had no answer to a peach of a delivery and saw his stumps castled in the 39th over.
Although Australia had no recognised batter in the middle for the final phase of the innings, it put on 69 runs in its last nine overs, thanks to Sean Abbott (26) and Ashton Agar (17).
Left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja (10-0-34-0), no stranger to the conditions, held one end upwith his tight bowling while Rahul was off the field for about an hour and Ishan Kishan deputised in the former’s absence.
In the second essay, leg-spinner Zampa (4/45) and left-arm spinner Agar (2/41) derailed India’s chase after Virat Kohli set the innings up with a patient 54 (72 balls, 2 fours, 1 six) – the home side went from 146 for two to 248 all-out. Hardik (40 off 40 balls, 3 fours, 1 six) contributed significantly with the blade as well, but his all-round performance could not alter the result.
Agar and Zampa’s respective last overs heavily affected the outcome of not only the match butalso the series. In the 36th over, Agar accounted for Kohli and Suryakumar Yadav off successive balls to put Australia in the driver’s seat.
Kohli could not resist playing a big shot down the ground and holed out to Warner at long-off while the off-colour Suryakumar was bowled for an ignominious third consecutive duck in the series. In the 46th over, Zampa put the final nail in the coffin by removing Jadeja (18), who the spectators believed would take India over the line.
Hardik had tried to release the scoreboard pressure in the 44th over, but skied one to Smith just outside the 30-yard circle.
Zampa had earlier got rid of opener Gill (37) and Rahul (32).
BRIEF SCORES: Australia 269 in 49 overs (M Marsh 47, Hardik 3/44, Kuldeep 3/56) bt India 248 in 49.1 overs (V Kohli 54, Hardik 40, A Zampa 4/45).
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