Rohit Sharma, Axar Patel flatten Australia as India regain No.1 spot in ODIs
Rohit Sharma’s century and Axar Patel’s 3/38 helped India beat Australia by seven wickets in the Nagpur ODi to clinch the series 4-1. With this victory, India retained their No.1 spot in ODI rankings after momentary slip.
The ease with which India chased down the modest target of 243 set by Australia at the Vidarbha Cricket Association stadium on Sunday summed up the dominant form Virat Kohli’s side is at the moment, despite the blip in the last game in Bangalore. (India vs Australia 5th ODI Highlights)
The Indian bowlers tightened the screws before the top-order did what they do best, led by Rohit Sharma’s racy 125 off 109 balls, to complete a 4-1 series win. (India vs Australia 5th ODI Scorecard)
The manner of India’s victory in the final ODI demonstrated their gap from Australia. While Australia started well, wobbled in the middle and lost their way in the end to reach the below-par total, India’s innings started with caution before it hit the highway to victory.
Australia skipper Steve Smith turned to seven bowlers to get him a wicket, bringing six of them within the first 12 overs. It indicated how he struggled to implement his plans. Rohit Sharma didn’t open his account till the 15th ball he faced but made up for it with back-to-back boundaries.
Despite this being an inconsequential game, typical textbook shots in the cover region brought the jam-packed crowd to life. Ajinkya Rahane, Man-of-the-Series in the West Indies who got to play only one match in the Sri Lanka ODI series, struck his fourth half-century in a row, scoring a 74-ball 61.
He paced his innings well, picking up a couple of boundaries before letting opening partner Rohit Sharma take over. Having tried hard to push the total past the 250-mark, Australia put in a similar effort to try and pick wickets, though both went in vain.
Rohit Sharma’s response dashed any hopes Australia had of pulling off a victory. While his classic cover drives treated the seamers with disdain, his gigantic sixes killed any hopes Steve Smith had of his spinners replicating the kind of effort Axar Patel (3/38) and Kedar Jadhav (1/48) put in together.
Ajinkya Rahane fell after scoring his fourth consecutive half-century, and by the time Rohit Sharma fell the writing was on the wall, with 20 runs to get from 10.5 overs. A tired shot while trying to finish things quickly ended his brilliant knock and skipper Virat Kohli too was caught trying to hit a maximum.
Opting to bat, Australia had got off to a fine start with David Warner notching up his 17th half-century (53 – 62 b, 5x4) and Aaron Finch scoring 36. However, they lost wickets in heaps, reduced to 118/4 from 100/1 and then losing their last five wickets for 35 runs.
Bowlers make merry
Axar Patel picked the wickets of David Warner, Peter Handscomb and Travis Head. He and Kedar Jadhav, who bowled 10 overs on the trot, pushed Australia on the back foot. Kuldeep Yadav failed to get a wicket, but combined well with Patel and Jadhav to slow down scoring. Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah too got wickets after returning to the side.
The 4-1 series win pushes India to No 1 in the ICC ODI rankings. It will give the hosts momentum for the three-match T20I series while Australia will have to dig deep to find inspiration.