A fine 119 from Rohit Sharma, the 29th century of his ODI career, helped India chase down 287 in Bangalore and register a come from behind 2-1 series victory over Australia.
The hosts were a batsman short after Shikhar Dhawan injured his shoulder while fielding, but Sharma and skipper Virat Kohli’s 146 run stand put those worries to rest as Ravi Shastri’s men cruised to victory on a good Chinnaswamy batting wicket.
India were unchanged for this clash, retaining the same XI that had done the business in Rajkot, while Australia brought in Josh Hazlewood for Kane Richardson. Opposition skipper Aaron Finch won his third consecutive toss of the series and opted to bat first this time around.
Here are our talking points from the game.
Off day for Pat Cummins and Mitch Starc: Australia opted to strengthen their bowling by including Josh Hazlewood for Kane Richardson. While Hazlewood did his job- he was absolutely miserly in his first five overs, going for just ten runs, Cummins and Starc had a bad day at the office.
Cummins went for 64 in his 7 overs, while Starc finished with figures of 0/66 in his 9. Their poor lines and lengths ensured that the pressure built by Hazlewood at one end was always released at the other, and even worse, they didn’t take even a single wicket between them.
You cannot afford two of your strike bowlers to have an off day while defending a under par total on a good batting wicket, and that unfortunately, is exactly what happened to Aaron Finch’s men.
Australia brought in Hazlewood for Kane Richardson to strengthen their bowling. Josh has done an excellent job, but Cummins and Starc, usually so good, have let 🇦🇺 down today. Need every bowler to do well when you're defending a sub 300 total v 🇮🇳 on this wicket! #INDvAUS #Hitman
— thecricketblog (@thecricblogger) January 19, 2020
Rohit Sharma scores 29th ODI century: Sharma’s 119 was the backbone of India’s chase. With regularly opening partner Shikhar Dhawan not available, he found the boundary regularly in the opening overs to ensure that pressure didn’t build on KL Rahul and Virat Kohli. The MI star hit a whopping 6 sixes in his knock- the rest of the batsmen (Indian and Australian) only managed 3 between them.
Sharma overtook Sanath Jayasuriya in the ODI centurions list and is now only one behind legendary Australian Ricky Ponting.
Australia miss Maxwell and Stoinis’ firepower: While Steve Smith held one end up, Australia’s inexperienced middle order missed the firepower of Glenn Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis. They were 173/2 in the 32nd over when Marnus Labuschagne fell, and looked well on course for a total of 310-320. However with Agar batting at 7 and Ashton Turner nowhere near the player who stunned the Mohali crowd last year, they ended up limping to 286 instead- a total that was never enough on this batting surface.
India chose KL Rahul to keep despite Pant being fit: Interestingly, India opted to continue with KL Rahul as their specialist keeper despite Rishabh Pant having recovered from his concussion. Rahul, who had batted at 3 and 5 in the two previous ODI’s, opened the innings in Bangalore this time around after Shikhar Dhawan injured his shoulder in the field.
Skipper Kohli later said they took the decision because it lent the team better balance. Will Rahul continue to keep the gloves for a longer period?
India complete successful series win: After absolutely being demolished in Mumbai, this come from behind win was a fine example of India’s ODI prowess. They did it against a full strength Australian lineup, and managed it despite losing all three tosses. It was also revenge of sorts- the visitors had come from 2-0 down to beat India 3-2 last season. This victory is perhaps the highlight of the Indian home season, and will give them plenty of confidence as they head down to tour New Zealand.