India lost the third and final match of the ODI series against Australia by 21 runs in Chennai on Wednesday. Australia won the three-match series 2-1, highlighting the fact that India is far from being prepared for the World Cup. The Indian team choked under pressure from Australian spinners, who took six wickets between them and gave away only 86 runs in the last 20 overs. Chasing a strong target of 270 runs India got all out for 248 runs in 49.1 overs. Although australia had lost the first match of the series by five wickets, they literally show how to fightback .
Australian Spinners Steal the Show
The match turned out to be an anti-climax in the final 15 overs as Australian spinners Adam Zampa and Ashton Agar snared as many as six Indian wickets, giving away only 86 runs in the 20 overs between them. The Chepauk pitch became increasingly difficult to bat on as the game progressed, and post the 35th over in the Indian innings, it became tough to hit big strokes. Zampa’s figures of 4/45 against India made him the hero for the Aussies.
Once Zampa bowled a couple of googlies to force Hardik Pandya (40 off 40 balls) and Ravindra Jadeja (1 off 33 balls) hit against the turn, the writing was on the wall. It was Zampa’s best figures against India and he certainly was the hero for the Aussies.
Incidentally, Australia were the last international team to beat India in a bilateral ODI series back in 2019. The score-line back then was 3-2. Since that series defeat four years back, India have won seven back-to-back bilateral ODI rubber at home.
India’s Inability to Dominate and Top-Order Failure
India’s top-order failed for the third game in a row, and they could have been blanked 3-0 in the series if Australia had scored at least 235 in the first ODI. The highest run-getter for India in the series was KL Rahul with 116 runs, which indicates India’s lack of form. Between overs 35 to 43, India managed only 31 runs, and that was where the game turned on its head. Skipper Rohit Sharma (30 off 17 balls) started well but played one pull shot too many to be holed out at deep square leg fence while an alert Alex Carey’s decision to convince Steve Smith into taking a DRS saw the back of Shubman Gill (37 off 49 balls)
Rahul (32 off 50 balls) joined Virat Kohli (54 off 72 balls) and the duo added 69 runs in 15.3 overs but were never able to dominate as such on a track that got slower with passage of time.
Kohli’s first boundary came in his 21st delivery, a pull shot off Agar and two balls later of Tamil Nadu he hit a regal six off Agar over extra cover.Rahul’s first boundary came in his 45th ball when he hit Zampa over his head for a four.
Next over, Starc fired from wide off crease but the length ball was hit for a straight six.However, a ball fired by Zampa into the blockhole was dug-out by Rahul but Abbot timed his jump well to hold onto it at the boundary.
Then it was the turn of Agar to quickly send back Kohli and the out-of-form Suryakumar Yadav (0) for his third first-ball duck in as many games.From 146 for 2, India had slumped to 185 for 6 when Pandya and Jadeja joined forces with the Australian close-in fielders making it infinitely difficult.But Pandya, however, maintained a 100-plus strike-rate despite tight bowling by the opposition.
Kuldeep Yadav’s Effort and Australia’s Tail Wag
A fine opening spell by Pandya and a probing effort by Kuldeep Yadav put a tight leash around the Australian batters before its tail wagged considerably to take the visitors to a fighting 269 all out in 49 overs after opting to bat first. While Pandya (3/44 in 8 overs) shaved off the top half, Kuldeep’s (3/56 in 10 overs) rhythm and guile on a helpful Chennai track was the biggest takeaway as the latter’s delivery to remove Carey was the ball of the series. It was a classical left-arm wrist spinner’s leg-break that beat the southpaw all ends up and Kuldeep’s ecstasy was there to be seen.
Australia’s classy batting backfooted India
India were in control after pegging Australia back at 138 for 5 but a 58-run stand between Carey and Marcus Stoinis for the sixth wicket and 42 for the eighth wicket between Sean Abbott (26) and Ashton Agar (17) took them close to 250 while Mitchell Starc and Adam Zampa added 22 precious runs for the final wicket.
What looked like a good toss to win for Australia after Mitchell Marsh (47 off 47 balls) and Travis Head (33 off 31 balls) put on 68 for the opening stand didn’t seem so as Pandya bowled three different deliveries in his first three overs to completely seize the momentum in favour of the hosts.
David Warner (23 off 31 balls) and Marnus Labuschagne (28 off 45 balls) paid dearly for their indiscreet shot selection off Kuldeep’s bowling before Carey (38 off 46 balls) played his first innings of substance on the final day of a long near two-month tour.
India’s defeat to Australia in the ODI series highlights the team’s weakness in facing spin bowling and raises concerns about their preparedness for the upcoming World Cup. The series defeat after winning seven back-to-back bilateral ODI rubber at home indicates that there are too many loose ends that the Indian team needs to address.