SYDNEY: Another pulsating Steve Smith century and two flying outfield catches clinched the One-day International series for Australia with a 51-run victory over India in Sydney on Sunday.
Smith tormented India with his second blistering hundred in as many matches as Australia posted another huge target, reaching 389-4 off 50 overs at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
The Australians then restricted India to 338-9 from their 50 overs with Virat Kohli falling on 89 to a magnificent Moises Henriques catch when the master batsman was closing in on a century.
Smith followed up his 105 off 66 balls in Friday’s first ODI victory with an equally dominant 104 off 64 balls as the Indians couldn’t stem the runs on a slow-paced pitch in searing conditions.
The total surpassed Australia’s 374-6 which set up Friday’s 66-run crushing win in the first ODI on the same ground and was the third-highest total scored against India.
“I felt good from ball one. Got myself in and went hard,” Smith said. “It was another great foundation set by Finchy and Davey [Warner]. That enabled myself and Maxi [Glenn Maxwell] to go hard at the back end.”
It was India’s fifth consecutive ODI defeat — for the first time since January 2016 — with the tourists now bidding to prevent a series whitewash in Wednesday’s final game in Canberra.
“They have outplayed us. We were ineffective with the ball, and didn’t hit the areas,” Kohli said. “They have a strong batting line-up, they know the conditions and the angles well. The chase felt steep. They took the chances that they created in the field, which was the difference.”
Australia’s win may have come at a cost, however, with Warner injuring his groin in a fielding tumble and likely to be out for the next ODI — and possibly the following T20 series.
Australia’s top order made India pay after skipper Aaron Finch won his second toss of the series to subject the tourists to another afternoon of toil under a hot sun.
Warner hit 83 off 77 balls, Finch 60 off 69, Marnus Labuschagne 70 off 60 and Glenn Maxwell bludgeoned a crowd-pleasing unbeaten 63 from 29 balls.
Smith put on a batting clinic with a full array of quirky shot-making as he raced to triple figures, laced with 14 fours and two sixes.
He fell two balls later stretching for a wide slower delivery off Hardik Pandya and getting a thick edge to Mohammed Shami at third man.
Finch and Warner brought up their 12th century opening stand in 16 overs before Finch mistimed Shami and spooned a catch to Kohli via his pads.
Finch’s 60 came off 69 balls with the first wicket falling at 142, following the pair’s 156-run stand in the first ODI.
Warner chanced his luck on 83 but was run out by a brilliant direct throw from Shreyas Iyer at long-off.
India lost Shikhar Dhawan in the eighth over of their innings when he miscued Josh Hazlewood and was caught by Mitchell Starc for 30 off 23 balls, and fellow opener Mayank Agarwal went in the next over.
Pat Cummins had Agarwal caught behind for 28 off 26 to leave India 60 for two and a sensational catch by Smith at mid-wicket ended Iyer’s knock of 38, giving Henriques a wicket.
Henriques proved Australia’s hero with his athletic horizontal catch to dismiss Kohli off Hazlewood for the prized wicket in the 35th over.
K.L. Rahul hit an enterprising 76 off 66 balls before he sliced leg-spinner Adam Zampa high to Hazlewood at short third man in the 44th over.
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).
Published in Dawn, November 30th, 2020