India’s bowlers produced yet another sloppy performance on Sunday to allow Australia clinch the five match ODI series by taking an unassailable 3-0 lead as they cruised to a three-wicket victory in the third match despite a heroic century by Virat Kohli.
Batting first, India scored a decent 295 for six in 50 overs with Virat Kohli scoring a run-a-ball 117 en route his 24th ODI century.
In reply, Australia looked untroubled as they knocked off the required runs with 1.1 overs still remaining.
Glenn Maxwell put paid to India’s hopes of an elusive win with a superlative 96 off 83 balls that had eight fours and three sixes as the bowlers once again undid the valiant effort from the batting unit. The fielding was also not upto the mark at times.
Umesh Yadav (2/68 in 9.5 overs), Barinder Sran (0/63 in 8 overs) and Ishant Sharma (2/53 in 10 overs) found it difficult to contain the batsman.
Aaron Finch (21 runs, 23 balls, 3 fours) and Shaun Marsh (62 runs, 76 balls, 6 fours) started off at almost six runs per over and the rate didn’t come down even with early bowling changes.
Debutant Gurkeerat Singh Mann dropped Finch in the 6th over, with the batsman on 20. But it had yielded a wicket, with Finch caught behind in the 8th over off Ishant. Steve Smith (41 runs, 45 balls, 5 fours) then came to the crease and started off without feeling any pressure.
He added 64 runs with Marsh, who scored a second consecutive half-century playing in place of David Warner, and the 100-mark coming up breezily in the 16th over. Australia were keeping abreast of the run-rate, and Smith was into his forties in the blink of an eye.
Against the run of play then, in the 19th over, Ravindra Jadeja (2-49) got one to spin away from him, and he edged it to slip with Ajinkya Rahane happily accepting the catch. His dismissal brought India back into the game with George Bailey (23) stumped in the 27th over.
But Maxwell then played a superb hand, with an uncharacteristic watchful innings to score his 13th ODI fifty.
Maxwell had reached his half-century in the 40th over, run-a-ball and there was an element of doubt about a faint edge on the snickometer in that same over.
Earlier, Kohli’s hundred guided India to 295/6 in 50 overs. He put on 119 runs with Shikhar Dhawan (68 runs, 91 balls, 9 fours) and another 109 runs with Ajinkya Rahane (50 runs, 55 balls, 4 fours, 1 six), but the Men in Blue had to settle for a below-par score.
Rohit Sharma (6) and Shikhar Dhawan took first strike then, but the former couldn’t replicate his centuries from the first two matches and was out caught behind off Kane Richardson (1-48) in the fifth over.
Kohli then walked to the crease, and looked fluent from the very beginning. It was important in the context of the innings as Dhawan was scratching around for his runs. While they didn’t lose any more wickets, India could only reach 62/1 in the first 15 overs.
Kohli got to his fifty in 51 deliveries, while Dhawan brought up his 16th ODI half-century off 76 balls. India’s 100-mark came up in the 22nd over, while they also brought up their 100-partnership off 120 balls.
India looked to carry on this momentum but Dhawan started taking more risks than necessary in order to compensate for his many dot balls.
As a result, he was bowled by John Hastings (4-58) against the run of play, walking across his stumps in the 27th over. It was the highest second-wicket partnership for India against Australia at the MCG, beating the previous best of 101 between Sunil Gavaskar and Dilip Vengsarkar in January 1981.
Rahane then came to the crease, and to his credit, he did not let the momentum dip. Kohli took a majority of the strike initially as his new partner rotated well.
In doing so they brought up their 50-partnership off only 55 balls and then further progressed to a 100-run stand off only 105 balls.
In the 40th over, India were placed at 207/2 while Rahane got to his 15th ODI half-century — and a consecutive one after Brisbane — off 54 balls.
Kohli reached his 24th ODI hundred off 105 balls in the 43rd over, and in doing so became the quickest batsman to breach the 7000-ODI runs marker.