High Zampa for Aussies as India lose 3rd ODI by 21 runs 

The series defeat is an indicator that the Indian team is far from prepared for the World Cup and there are too many loose ends that need to be tied.

CHENNAI: Australia spinners Adam Zampa (4-45) and Ashton Agar (2-41) picked up six wickets to beat India by 21 runs in the final ODI at the MA Chidambaram stadium here on Wednesday.

India was all out for 248 in 49.1 overs, chasing Australia’s 269 on a pitch offering turn. Steve Smith’s captaincy needs a special mention for he never gave up the game at any moment and fought till the very end to guide the visitors a well deserved 2-1 win in the series.

This ODI series is an eye-opener for India for things to come, as they are the hosts of the upcoming World Cup to be played in October. Smith is a captain who knows how to exploit an opportunity when he senses it. When Virat Kohli and Suryakumar Yadav (the third one-baller of the series) were removed off successive deliveries, Smith believed that Australia stood a chance to win.

This self-belief and tidy bowling by the Australian bowlers in the last ten overs enabled the visitors to taste victory. The attack is the best form of defence goes a famous adage. India used this ploy to counter the in-form Mitchell Starc and reaped rich dividends.

Virat Kohli played a mature and responsible inning (54) to keep India alive in the match as the top-order could not convert the starts into big scores. The master craftsman once again showed why he is considered the best of his generation.

Kohli had done his homework well and thus played a lot straighter, and attacked only when required. He cut, pulled and swept with relish. He was also at ease against the spinners off the back foot.  He once pulled Agar to the fence and then executed a well-planned inside-out shot to the boundary. Later, a well-set Kohli went for a half-hearted inside-out shot from a ball that came in from Agar and it sailed into Warner’s hands at long off.

Adam Zampa (C) celebrates a wicket on Wednesday | Ashwin Prasath

The very next ball Yadav was castled by Agar. The fact that the team shielded Yadav and sent him at No 7 was to give the Mumbaikar some time. But alas Yadav once again did not grab the opportunity. Thus, from a comfortable position, India was reduced to 185 for 6.

Now it was left to Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja the last two recognised batters to do the rescue act. The pressure was so high that they could not even rotate the strike regularly. The boundaries were not coming due to the excellent field setting by Smith. Finally, Pandya (40) played against the spin of an Adam Zampa delivery but only managed to find Smith in the covers. Set a target of 270 for a win, India began the chase in earnest with skipper Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill carefully negotiating Mitchel Starc and Marcus Stoinis.

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Luckily for India, Starc chose to bowl the wrong lengths and pitched the ball in the wrong areas. This exploited the host's top order. During one such moment, Gill carted a half-volley from Starc that was pitched on the middle and leg stump over deep mid-wicket.

Again to relieve the team of pressure Gill square cut Stoinis to the fence, picking the gaps intelligently, with the Australian fielders watching the ball travel like a bullet to the fence. Gill showed his sense of timing by executing a short-arm jab to the long-on fence, then he came well behind the line of the ball to execute a copybook off drive wide of mid-off.

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The India team think tank ploy of unsettling Starc worked as the Australian speedster was visibly unhappy with the treatment he was getting. Rohit Sharma and Gill added 65 runs for the first wicket.

Rohit (30) was done in by change of pace and fell to Sean Abbott. A while later, Gill (37) was also trapped in front of Zampa. Kohli and KL Rahul seemingly settled in for a long night’s work but their vigil fell short. Apart from the spinners, Australia had a number of batters to thank for putting up 269.

Brief scores

Australia 269 in 49 ovs (Head 33, Marsh 47, Carey 38; Kuldeep 3/56, Pandya 3/44, Axar 2/57, Siraj 2/37) bt India 248 in 49.1 ovs (Gill 37, Kohli 54, Pandya 40; Zampa 4/45, Agar 2/41). 

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