A century from Usman Khawaja, combined with a terrific all-round bowling performance, saw to Australia completing an incredible series turnaround, as they triumphed by 35 runs in the final ODI at Delhi.
Having trailed the series 2-0, hopes of an Australia series win against the second-ranked ODI side in the world would have seemed near impossible. Nonetheless, when Marcus Stoinis rattled Kuldeep Yadav’s stumps to end the match, he put the finishing touches on an achievement only four other ODI sides have managed – coming back from 2-0 down to take a series.
Australia chose to bat first, and Khawaja headlined the innings with his second ODI hundred, rounding off a phenomenal series with the bat. The left-hander’s scores from the series read: 50, 38, 104, 91, 100. A starting spot at this summer’s ICC Cricket World Cup beckons.
Alongside Aaron Finch (27), Khawaja got Australia off to a solid start as the pair put on 76 for the first wicket before Ravindra Jadeja unfurled a gripping delivery to crash through Finch’s defence.
Peter Handscomb entered the fray on the back of his match-winning hundred in the previous ODI, and ticked along nicely with Khawaja. The pair tackled the threat of Kuldeep Yadav effectively – the left-arm wrist-spinner went on to finish the innings with expensive figures of 1/74 from his 10 overs.
Khawaja brought up his century from 102 balls – 10 fours and two sixes included – but he wasn’t to add any more to his total, as Bhuvneshwar Kumar nabbed his first wicket of the day.
He made two centuries, two half-centuries and a total of 383 runs in the series – who else could be named #INDvAUS Player of the Series but @Uz_Khawaja!
Australia suddenly found themselves losing momentum, as Glenn Maxwell (1) departed cheaply, before Handscomb (52) fell to leave the visitors on 182/4. Stoinis and Ashton Turner both hit 20, but Australia crumbled in tame fashion – Mohammad Shami (2/57) and Kumar (3/48) doing the bulk of damage.
Jasprit Bumrah proved to be an economical force, conceding just 39 runs from 10 overs – 19 of those coming from his penultimate over, as Jhye Richardson saved some face for the Australians with a 21-ball 29. Still, a total of 272/9 would have been disappointing, with a 300-plus total appearing to be a formality at one stage.
Shikhar Dhawan (12) fell victim to Pat Cummins early on in the proceedings and with the key wicket of Virat Kohli (20) – the Indian skipper top-edged to Alex Carey off the bowling of Stoinis – Australia seemed to be in the ascendancy.
Pat Cummins took 2/38 from his 10 overs Pat Cummins took 2/38 from his 10 overs
The spin duo of Zampa and Nathan Lyon then confirmed Australia as favourites, with the Delhi pitch offering grip and turn. Lyon caught Rishabh Pant’s (16) outside-edge, with Turner gobbling a catch at slip, before Vijay Shankar (16) pulled a ball straight into the hands of Khawaja at long-on off Zampa – India were in trouble at 120/4.
While expensive at times during the five-match series, Zampa delivered the important commodity of wickets. In Delhi he not only managed three scalps, but proved difficult to get away, returning figures of 3/46. His removal of Rohit Sharma (56) – stumped thanks to dome tidy work from Carey – was well deserved, after the Indian opener had been put down twice off the bowling of Zampa beforehand.
Kedhar Jadhav gave Australia a scare with his innings of 44 Kedhar Jadhav gave Australia a scare with his innings of 44. The match seemed virtually over with Rohit’s dismissal, but Kedar Jadhav and Kumar breathed the game back into life with a 91-run partnership.
Australian nerves would have been jangling till Cummins – who finished the series with a spectacular return of 14 wickets – had Kumar (46) chipping the ball to Finch at mid-on – a fist-pump from the Australia captain a clear show of relief. It was all to get even better with the next ball, as Richardson began his ninth over with the dismissal of Jadhav (44) – a pull shot finding a running Maxwell at mid-wicket.
The remaining overs proved a formality, as Australia completed a thrilling series heist.