India sealed the three-match ODI series with a seven-wicket win at Melbourne aided by stellar contributions from Yuzvendra Chahal, Kedar Jadhav and the unstoppable MS Dhoni. Batting first, Australia were choked by Chahal, who grabbed the best figures for a spinner in ODIs in the country, and petered along to 230 before being bowled out. Dhoni and Jadhav then helped India gun down the target with a 121-run stand for the fourth wicket.
Take a glance at our report card from the final ODI of the tour.
Playing his first ODI of the series, leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal ripped through Australia's middle-order to record the best ever figures for a spinner in the country in ODIs. Chahal picked up the wickets of Shaun Marsh, Usman Khawaja and Marcus Stoinis in the space of seven overs to dent Australia's first innings and added three more in the end to finish with figures of 6/42.
For the third successive time this series, MS Dhoni scored a half-century, and for the second consecutive time led India to a successful run chase. Dhoni was unmoved by criticism over his strike-rate and continued his tried and tested mantra of occupying the crease for long and taking the game down to the wire. His unbeaten 121-run stand with Kedar Jadhav sealed the series for India in a tricky run-chase. Dhoni ended the series as India’s top-scorer after his match-winning 114-ball 87 at Melbourne.
Jadhav was unlucky to not add Shaun Marsh's wicket early on as Dhoni dropped a catch behind the stumps but the part-timer was less effective than expected in his spell. He, however, made amends with the bat, walking in at No 5 and guiding India to the target in the company of MS Dhoni. The century partnership put India in the driving seat and Jadhav finished with an unbeaten 61 that almost guarantees his place in the XI.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar once again picked up an early wicket, this time that of Alex Carey to put India ahead. He went on to add the scalp of his new bunny on the tour, Aaron Finch, to reduce Australia to 27/2 by the 9th over. Bhuvneshwar dismissed Finch in all three ODIs this series and finished the series with an eye-catching performance with the new ball. His eight overs went for just 28 and put India in control early in the decider.
If Bhuvneshwar was penetrative early on, Mohammad Shami played the perfect foil, hitting a back of a length channel and keeping things pretty tidy from his end. Shami's first five overs went for just 14 but he went wicketless. In his second spell, Shami came back with his nippy bouncers and pegged Australia back with the wicket of Glenn Maxwell (26 off 19) at a crucial time. Shami has ended the series by almost sealing the spot as one of India’s seamers for the World Cup.
Often hailed as Australia's best player of spin after Steven Smith, Handscomb has had a good series and ended it with another good knock, a 63-ball 58 where he rallied together the Australian lower order to take them to a total of respectability after the middle-order collapsed to Chahal. On a slow surface, Handscomb showed the way for the rest of the batsmen with his assured shot-making and strike rotation. He might want to add another gear in his game to become a permanent feature in Australia's middle-order.
Richardson has been the find for Australia this series and his skiddy pace has befuddled quite a few Indian batsmen. The Perth Scorchers seamer dismissed Virat Kohli in all three ODIs and has virtually stamped down his World Cup spot. Richardson was terrific at Melbourne, not allowing the Indian batsmen room and tying down the run rate in a 10-over spell that cost just 27.
Kohli seemed to adapt to the sluggishness in the surface better than any other batsmen but just as he looked set to take India to another successful run-chase, Jhye Richardson, his nemesis this series, produced a 143 kmph peach to exploit his fourth stump weakness. While Kohli's 62-ball 42 put India on course for a win, being the perfectionist that he is, the skipper would rue the fact that he wasn't able to see the chase through till the end.
Brought into the side for this game to lend balance to the outfit, Vijay Shankar came on as a first change bowler and was pretty consistent with his channels. His six overs cost just 23 runs but Shankar will hope he gets as good an opportunity with the bat to showcase his actual potential.
On a surface that interested the spinners, Zampa wasn't really threatening although he managed to keep things quiet from his end. The leg-spinner put a leash on the Indian batsmen's dancing shoes and bowled a fuller length at a quicker pace. However, unlike Chahal he failed to extract as much turn due to his pace. Australia will hope Zampa learns his lesson quickly and adds more variations to his repertoire.
After a scintillating hundred at Adelaide, Shaun Marsh held most of Australia's hopes in the series decider and once again started off well with a 54-ball 39. He was the first of Chahal's wickets as he charged out only to see the leg-spinner befuddle him with a wide. Dhoni completed a stumping to put an end to Marsh's method of stepping out to play the spinners.
Replacing Jason Behrendorff in the XI, Stanlake extracted extra lift off the surface but the general slowness of the wicket prevented him from testing the Indians further. He was, however, tidy in his 10-over spell and gave away just 49 runs. He is likely to get lesser chances, though, once the trio of first-choice seamers return.
Stoinis’ change of pace nearly accounted for the big wicket of MS Dhoni off the first ball the former India captain faced but Glenn Maxwell put down a sitter at the point position as Dhoni got a life. Stoinis continued to vary his pace and make good use of variations but ended up conceding over six runs an over while doing very little with the bat. He, however, remains quintessential to Australia's plans for the World Cup.
Restricted to No 7 yet again, Maxwell lent a positive vibe to Australia's innings with some smart cricket. He played Chahal with conviction and rotated the strike constantly to keep the scoreboard ticking. On 26 off 19 balls, Maxwell received a superb delivery from Shami that skid off the surface to catch him by surprise. The top edge was taken at fine leg and an innings that a lot of promise came to a premature end. He wasn't used much with the ball and a dropped catch of Dhoni (off the first ball he faced) cost Australia big.
Khawaja appeared the most comfortable of Aussie batsmen at the wicket, scoring at a decent rate and once again getting off to a good start. He had thwarted the Ravindra Jadeja threat with a well-timed reverse sweep for four but Chahal had the better of him with a delivery that stuck onto the two-paced wicket. Khawaja might want to make more than these pleasing 30s to make a compelling case for a top-order berth.
Jadeja once again stuck to one line and length but his failure to add enough wickets will hurt his chances as the World Cup approaches. This is just the second time he has gone wicket-less since the Asia Cup but only twice has he taken more than one wicket in an innings. India need Jadeja to be containing while getting the odd breakthrough.
Dhawan spent time at the wicket, reading the pace and bounce of the surface and finding his rhythm. But for the ninth successive time he failed to make a half-century in this format as he drove a slower ball from Marcus Stoinis back to him. After spending 46 balls at the wicket, Dhawan would feel gutted for throwing his start away yet another time.
The experienced seamer had an underwhelming series as he picked up just two wickets across three matches. He was listless with his lines and appeared rusty on his comeback. The series was believed to be an opportunity for him to comeback into the reckoning in ODIs but he has thrown his chances away. The good work by Stoinis, Richardson and Zampa were undone as Siddle leaked 24 in his final two overs.
Carey's stint at the top of the order ought to come to an end after another failure at Melbourne. He has enjoyed success in the role at Adelaide Strikers in the Big Bash League in the past but Carey seems to be struggling to build on to his starts in International cricket. At Melbourne, he consumed 11 balls for his five before edging Bhuvneshwar Kumar to the cordon.
Justin Langer had hinted that Aaron Finch “needs a few breaks” to get back into form and that might just have to happen after another failure at Melbourne. The pattern of dismissals, more than the lack of runs, will worry the Australian think-tank. Finch fell to Bhuvneshwar Kumar in all three ODIs this series with all three dismissals being either bowled or lbw to inswingers.
Leading edges were a trend in this match and Rohit Sharma was flummoxed by the two-paced wicket too. Trusting the pace and bounce on the wicket, Rohit went for a flick off Siddle's delivery only to edge it to first slip to bring an impromptu end to his innings. He will hope to end the New Zealand series with a few good knocks before meeting Australia again back at home.
*Dinesh Karthik wasn't rated owing to his minimal role in the match
Rating chart: 10-9: Excellent, 8-7: Good, 6-5: Average, 4-3: Poor, 2-1: Very poor
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