Australia beat India in 3rd ODI to clinch series

Melbourne, Jan 17 (IANS) Australia dominated with both bat and ball to defeat India by three wickets in the third One-Day International (ODI) at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) here on Sunday.

Pacer John Hastings returned figures of 4/58 as India posted 295/6 after being asked to bat first. Glenn Maxwell (96) and Shaun Marsh (62) then spearheaded the run chase as Australia claimed victory with seven balls to spare.

The hosts have now taken an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five-ODI series. Australia had won the first two matches by five and seven wickets respectively.

The Indians have now lost three of their last four ODI series since the World Cup in Australia last year. This is their third consecutive series loss. They earlier conceded an away series in Bangladesh and went down to South Africa at home.

As in the earlier matches in this series, the visitors were let down by the bowlers despite putting up a big total.

Left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja (2/49) and pacer Ishant Sharma (2/53) claimed two wickets each. But the overall standard of the visitors’ bowling was not enough to pose a serious challenge to the Australian batsmen.

Fast bowler Umesh Yadav claimed an early wicket when Aaron Finch (21) edged him to India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni behind the wicket. But the visitors’ joy proved to be short-lived as Marsh and Australian skipper Steven Smith (41) brought the hosts back on track with a 64-run stand.

Jadeja struck in his very first over after coming on in the 19th over when Smith mistimed a slower ball to offer an easy edge to Ajinkya Rahane at first slip.

That saw the Australian run rate go down a notch and Jadeja gave the Indians a glimmer of hope when he got rid of George Bailey (23) thanks to some nice work behind the stumps by Dhoni. When Ishant sent back Marsh a couple of overs later, the Indians held the upper hand with the Australian score reading 167/4.

But Maxwell strode in to turn things around for the hosts, stroking eight boundaries and three sixes during his 83-ball knock. James Faulkner (21) gave him steady support at the other end. By the time Maxwell offered a top edge to Shikhar Dhawan at long-off while trying to smash a Yadav delivery out of the ground, it was all over for the visitors.

Earlier, Virat Kohli led the way with a century as India posted 295/6 after being asked to bat first by the hosts.

Kohli scored 117 runs off an equal number of deliveries before falling to a slower one from pacer John Hastings. He smashed seven boundaries and a couple of sixes during his innings.

Ajinkya Rahane (50) also did well, scoring a half-century. India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni tried to push up the run rate late in the innings, smashing 23 runs off nine balls.

India lost opener Rohit Sharma early. The Mumbai batsman was caught behind while attempting to steer a Kane Richardson delivery to third man.

Rohit’s departure saw Kohli stride to the crease and he proceeded to try and steady the innings along with Dhawan.

They, however, found the boundaries hard to come by as the Australian bowlers managed to keep the run rate down.

Although Dhawan finally scored his first half-century in 17 international innings, he was not totally comfortable and struggled to find the gaps.

The Delhi left-hander scored 68 before trying to guide a full length Hastings delivery to the leg-side, only to see the ball hit his leg stump.

Rahane’s arrival in the middle saw a spike in the run rate with the Mumbai batsman and Kohli trying to go after the Australian bowlers.

Rahane had four hits to the fence and a six in his 55-ball knock before being undone by a superb effort in the field by Australia skipper Steven Smith.

The Mumbai lad tried to pull Hastings for another six but could not clear the ropes.

Smith ran in from long-on and caught it at the edge of the boundary. But he lost his balance and tossed the ball over to Glenn Maxwell who was running in from deep midwicket.

After Kohli had hit a slower delivery from Hastings into the hands of George Bailey at extra cover, Dhoni tried to accelerate the run rate. But the Australian bowlers bagged another couple of wickets towards the end to restrict the visitors to a manageable total.

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