Those with only a passing interest in cricket who stumbled on Sunday's third one-dayer on TV could have been excused for thinking Channel Nine had resorted to showing repeats.
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Australia takes third ODI against India
Australia takes the three-nil lead in the five-match series with 296/7 to India's 295/6, sealing the win against the visitors at the MCG.
For the third time in a week Australia's bowlers struggled to take wickets on a pitch heavily skewed in favour of high scoring and India posted what used to be considered a hefty one-day total. And Australia again successfully chased it, with little exertion, to take an insurmountable three-nil lead in the five-match series.
While India's 6-295 was primarily based around one player – Virat Kohli, with a run-a-ball 117 – Australia profited from smaller contributions from more players: most notably Shaun Marsh, Steve Smith and Glenn Maxwell. It was the latter, with an unusually uneventful 96 from 83 balls, who steered Australia home with three wickets and seven balls in hand in front of an India-dominated crowd of 47,638 at the MCG.
The only thing which set the latest chase apart from the two over the past week was that rather than beating India through relentless rotation of the strike they did it by finding the boundary more regularly.
Australia, who chose to field first, ended the century streak of Rohit Sharma by dismissing him in the fifth over. That had little hindrance on India's total, however, as Kohli cruised to his 24th century in one-dayers, and was well supported by Ajinkya Rahane (50 from 55).
Given India only conceded two wickets in the first 44 overs they should have exceeded 300. Their captain, M.S. Dhoni, did his best to take advantage of their wickets in hand by pounding 22 from nine at the death. India were – Dhoni aside – not as adventurous with their strokeplay as they should have been. They at least did so in selection, dropping established first-choice spinner are R. Ashwin and middle-order batsman Manish Pandey in favour of two uncapped all-rounders: off-spinner Gurkeerat Mann and seam-bowler Rishi Dhawan. Neither, however, posed a threat with the ball.
Even though John Hastings was the last player into the squad, his economical haul of 4-58 from 10 overs should warrant his retention for the rest of the series. This could potentially be at the expense of Victorian teammate Scott Boland, whose inability to consistently bowl yorkers, a key trait in his elevation to the team, saw him go wicketless from nine overs, and thrice getting thumped over his head for six.
The basis of India's total was the two century partnerships involving Kohli: of 119 for the second wicket, with Shikhar Dhawan, and 109 with Rahane. The latter was far more beneficial, as Rahane was able to keep pace with Kohli in a way Dhawan conspicuously struggled with earlier, having scored from only two off his first 21 deliveries. His 68 from 91 was costly, due to how sedate it was.
Australia's top six all got starts, with George Bailey again impressive despite only scoring 23. Shaun Marsh's bid to retain his spot even after David Warner returns was helped by his stylish 62 from 73, before falling in the 30th over. The closest India got to legitimately threatening Australia came when off-spinner Ravindra Jadeja claimed 2-25 in his six-over spell in the middle of the innings. Dhoni waited until the 42nd over to bring him back, by which stage Mitch Marsh and Matthew Wade had departed and James Faulkner had arrived to support Maxwell.
The home team still needed 81 runs when Wade fell in the 36th over. Maxwell and Faulkner put a big dent in India's fading hopes with a half-century partnership in just 43 balls. By that stage, the main source of interest was whether Maxwell could get his first international century in front of his home crowd. A six and a four early in the 49th over took him to 96. With the scores then level he could only do it with a boundary, and was caught attempting a heave to long-off. Had India posted the 300-plus total they should have he would have had a greater chance of getting that century.
Faulkner got the single that Australia needed.