SYDNEY: With a 51-run win over India in Sydney on Sunday, another pulsating Steve Smith century and two flying outfield catches clinched the One-day International series for Australia.
With his second blistering hundred in as many matches, Smith tormented India as Australia posted another big target, hitting 389-4 off 50 overs at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
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When the master batsman was closing in on a century, the Australians then limited India to 338-9 from their 50 overs with Virat Kohli collapsing on 89 to a magnificent Moises Henriques grab.
In Friday’s first ODI win, Smith followed up his 105 out of 66 balls with an equally powerful 104 out of 64 balls as the Indians were unable to stem the runs in searing conditions on a slow-paced pitch.
In the first ODI on the same ground, the total exceeded Australia’s 374-6, which set up Friday’s 66-run crushing victory and was the third-highest total scored against India.
“I feel good from the first ball. Got in and went hard,’ said Smith. “This was another wonderful platform laid by [Warner] Finchy and Davey. That made it possible for me and Maxi [Glenn Maxwell] to go deep on the back end.
For the first time since January 2016, it was India’s fifth consecutive ODI loss with the visitors now bidding to escape a string of whitewash in the final game in Canberra on Wednesday.
“They were outplaying us. With the ball, we were inefficient, and didn’t touch the areas,’ said Kohli. They have a good line-up of batting, they well know the circumstances and the angles. The chase looked steep. They took the opportunities in the sector that they made, which was the difference.
However with Warner injuring his groyne in a fielding tumble and likely to be out for the next ODI, and probably the subsequent T20 series, Australia’s victory could have come at a cost.
After skipper Aaron Finch earned his second toss of the series to subject the tourists to another afternoon of toil under the hot sun, Australia’s top order made India pay.
Warner struck 83 out of 77 balls, Finch 60 out of 69, Marnus Labuschagne 70 out of 60 and a crowd-pleasing unbeaten 63 out of 29 balls bludgeoned by Glenn Maxwell.
As he sped to triple digits, laced with 14 fours and two sixes, Smith put on a batting clinic with a complete array of eccentric shot-making.
He dropped two balls later, stretching off Hardik Pandya for a wide slower delivery and having a thick edge to third man Mohammed Shami.
Before Finch mistimed Shami and spooned a catch to Kohli through his pads, Finch and Warner brought up their 12th century opening stand in 16 overs.
With the first wicket dropping at 142, Finch’s 60 came from 69 balls, following the pair’s 156-run stand in the first ODI.
On 83, Warner chanced his luck but was run out at long-off by a brilliant straight throw from Shreyas Iyer.
In the eighth over of their innings, India lost Shikhar Dhawan when he insulted Josh Hazlewood and was trapped by Mitchell Starc for 30 out of 23 balls, and fellow opener Mayank Agarwal went in the next over.
Pat Cummins had Agarwal caught behind for 28 off 26 to make India 60 for two and Iyer’s knock of 38 ended with a sensational catch by Smith at mid-wicket, giving Henriques a wicket.
With his agile horizontal grab to dismiss Kohli from Hazlewood for the coveted wicket in the 35th over, Henriques proved Australia’s hero.
Oh! K.L. Before he sliced leg-spinner Adam Zampa high to Hazlewood at short third man in the 44th over, Rahul hit an enterprising 76 off 66 balls.
D.A. Warner run out 83
A.J. Finch c Kohli b Shami 60
S.P.D. Smith c Shami b Pandya 104
M. Labuschagne c Agarwal b Bumrah 70
G.J. Maxwell not out 63
M.C. Henriques not out 2
EXTRAS (LB-2, W-4, NB-1) 7
TOTAL (for four wkts, 50 overs) 389
FALL OF WKTS: 1-142, 2-156, 3-292, 4-372.
DID NOT BAT: A.T. Carey, P.J. Cummins, M.A. Starc, A. Zampa, J.R. Hazlewood.
BOWLING: Mohammed Shami
9-0-73-1 (1w); Bumrah 10-1-79-1 (1w); Saini 7-0-70-0 (1nb, 2w); Chahal 9-0-71-0; Jadeja 10-0-60-0; Agarwal 1-0-10-0; Pandya 4-0-24-1.
S. Dhawan c Starc b Hazlewood 30
M.A. Agarwal c Carey b Cummins 28
V. Kohli c Henriques b Hazlewood 89
S.S. Iyer c Smith b Henriques 38
K.L. Rahul c Hazlewood b Zampa 76
H.H. Pandya c Smith b Cummins 28
R.A. Jadeja c Maxwell b Cummins 24
N.A. Saini not out 10
Mohammed Shami c and b Maxwell 1
J.J. Bumrah lbw b Zampa 0
Y.S. Chahal not out 4
EXTRAS (W-8, NB-2) 10
TOTAL (for nine wkts, 50 overs) 338
FALL OF WKTS: 1-58, 2-60, 3-153, 4-225, 5-288, 6-321, 7-321, 8-326, 9-328.
BOWLING: Starc 9-0-82-0 (1nb); Hazlewood 9-0-59-2 (1w); Cummins 10-0-67-3 (1nb, 5w); Zampa 10-0-62-2 (1w); Henriques 7-0-34-1 (1w); Maxwell 5-0-34-1
RESULT: Australia won by 51 runs to lead three-match series 2-0.
UMPIRES: P.R. Reiffel (Australia) and G.A. Abood (Australia).
TV UMPIRE: B.N.J. Oxenford (Australia).
MATCH REFEREE: D.C. Boon (Australia).
MAN-OF-THE-MATCH: Steve Smith.
FIRST MATCH: Sydney, Australia won by 66 runs.
THIRD MATCH: Canberra (D/N), Wednesday (8:40am PST).