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Handscomb-Khawaja outperform the hosts to disappoint the firm favourites to clinch the ODI series.

Aaron Finch and his boys extended the limited over dominance over the firm favourites India post grabbing the T2OI series 2-0 few weeks prior. The visitors made a stunning comeback in the 5 match ODI series after trailing 0-2 to win the next 2 matches to keep their chances alive. All eyes were set on the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium in Delhi for the final showdown between the 2 cricketing giants. Having elected to bat first on the iconic small ground and a slow-looking surface, Usman Khawaja justified his captain’s decision with his sensational batting skills. Not having scored a single century in his ODI career before landing in India, the left-handed batsmen not only guided Australia towards a series victory, but also left the subcontinent with 2 tonnes which helped him finish the series with 383 runs in 5 matches. In doing so, he broke AB De Villiers & Kane Williamson’s record of 353 & 361 runs against India. Supported by Peter Handscomb (52) on the other end, the left-right batting pair added a 99-run second-wicket stand which laid the foundation of Australian innings. Jadeja and Shami got rid of dangerous Maxwell and Handscomb in quick succession which helped to put brakes on the accelerating innings of Australia as they were reduced to 182-4 in the 37th over. A useful cameo of 29 runs by Jhye Richardson towards the end helped the visitors to set second-highest run chase in front of the hosts to finish on the winning side.

India were set a target of 273 on a pitch with the average 2nd innings score being 211. With the return form of its opening pair and a great track record at the venue, winning 14 of their last 15 international matches, India seemed to be a dominant force to win the match. However, Finch had different plans to counter the hosts. Pat Cummins dismissed centurion from Mohali, Shikhar Dhawan for 12 which put the pressure on Indian vice-captain, Rohit Sharma to take the innings forward. The latter was joined in with Virat Kohli as the duo added 53 runs for the second wicket. With over 200 ODI runs at an average of 50.50 at Feroz Shah Kotla, the home-side captain failed to perform with the same momentum as he became a victim to Stoinis for a mere 20 runs edging to Alex Carey behind the stumps. Helpless on the other end, Hitman continued his fine form as he notched up his 41st half century, thereby completing 8000 runs in ODI cricket. Sharma became the joint third fastest batsmen to hit the milestone along with former Indian skipper Sourav Ganguly.  Failed to capitalize on thereafter, India were seen tottering at 132/6 as the middle order were able to add 52 runs on the scoreboard. A handy cameo by Kedar Jadhav and Bhuvneshwar Kumar kept the hopes alive in the Indian dressing room as the duos were dealing in boundaries. With the required run-rate hovering above 12, both the batting unit were dismissed in quick succession. As a result, India fell short off the target by 35 runs which costed the series for the hosts at home for 1st time since 2015, when the Proteas defeated MS Dhoni led Indian cricket team by a margin of 3-2.

 

Though India may have lost their final 50-overs assignment before the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, it remains the most successful team till date with highest number of ODI wins and best win percentage among all other participating nations in the upcoming tournament.

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