Despite Virat Kohli's heroics, India's bowling and fielding left a lot to be desired yet again as Glenn Maxwell powered Australia to a three-wicket win in the third ODI. With a 3-0 lead, the hosts clinched the ODI series with two games to spare. Veteran cricket journalist Ayaz Memon, or Cricketwallah as he is known, analyses the Melbourne ODI in an exclusive chat with Firstpost.
Virat Kohli's 24th ODI ton had helped India to a respectable 295/6 after Australia captain Steve Smith won the toss and asked the visitors to bat first. India had lost the first two matches batting first and they would've hoped for a different result today. Dhoni's men did look to be in a good position near the middle overs during Australia's chase after dismissing the top order, including in-form Steve Smith and George Bailey. But the hosts could not capitalise on the opportunity and Glenn Maxwell, aided by some poor fielding and bowling, guided Australia to a series win.
In conversation with Firstpost's Jigar Mehta, Ayaz gives his take on what went wrong for Dhoni.
"Today, India had the match somewhere in its grip in the middle overs, which was much more impressive than the earlier two matches, and then it was squandered by some loose bowling," Ayaz said post-match.
"In a tight situation, especially when you've got the top order out and Glenn Maxwell left to get past, if you bowl loose deliveries, you're going to give away the match. Dhoni would be distraught today."
Ayaz said India couldn't get past the 300-run mark as the team kept loosing wickets at decisive match situations. "There was good partnership between Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli and then Kohli and Rahane. Dhoni then played a terrific cameo. But as has been the trend so far, we lost wickets at crucial junctures and in attempt to get 320 odd, we fell short of 300," he said.
Ayaz lauded the Australians for turning up with the goods when required. Australia despite loosing Steve Smith and Bailey showcased their batting depth and dug the match out towards the end. "The Australians come good in the death overs. They have done that in match after match. They are doing something right in the last 10 overs, we are not doing too much right in the entire 50 overs," he said.
In a reply to a query on whether India lacks finishers of the game, unlike Australia, Ayaz said that Australia has great depth. "The asking rate never went up to 8,9 or 10. They did't have to play frantic strokes. This was not a typical Maxwell innings, he was very measured. His strike-rate maybe over 100, but he didn't throw his bat at everything." he said.
Ayaz highlighted Indian pacers' inconsistency. "Barinder Sran had been the pick among the bowlers in the series, but today he was expensive. He lacked control, specially up front. Umesh bowls at good pace. Some deliveries are really good, but every over he'll give a ball to be hit to the boundary," he said. "That kind of inconsistency will not be helpful to India 's cause."
"Indian batsmen have been performing well. Australia's batting needs to contained. We saw they made 310 to win (in the first ODI), then 309 to win, now 296 to win. It shows their batting depth and also shows India's bowling frailties. We are not able to defend 310 and even 296."
With the series now lost, Ayaz said this was the time to experiment and give youngsters like Gurkeerat Mann and Rishi Dhawan a chance to prove themselves in international cricket.
Firstpost's Game plan with Ayaz Memon will be streamed live on Periscope and on Firstpost website at the end of each ODI of the series Down Under. Follow @FirstpostSports on Twitter for more details.
Match report: Australia clinch series 3-0 after Maxwell fireworks trump Kohli heroics
Melbourne: 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.