Defending 269, Agar had bowled a tight line and length till then on a pitch that had a bit in it for the spinners. But with the score reading 185-4 in the 36th over, with Virat Kohli and Hardik Pandya well entrenched, it seemed a cakewalk for the Indians.
AS IT HAPPENED
But Kohli (54 off 72 balls) had a brain fade as he looked to play Agar over the top, messing it up completely and giving a catch in the deep. And then, the best T20 batter in the world, Suryakumar Yadav, got his third consecutive golden duck, trying to go back to a faster one off Agar.
It was at this point that the game completely turned on its head. Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja are two of the best finishers in the game, but Australia were just too good on the day.
Leggie Adam Zampa induced an edge off Pandya to break that partnership and when he had Jadeja in the next over, the fans started trooping out of the stadium.
There were things that the Indian batting unit did well on the day. They dealt with their wrecker-in-chief in the first two games – Mitchell Starc -with Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill showing the way with some courageous batting. But the wickets kept falling at wrong junctures that finally led to the 21-run defeat and India’s first ODI series loss at home in four years.
While Australia constantly kept fighting back on the field, it wasn’t easy for them when they batted either. But the commendable thing about the visitors was that they simply refused to back down.
It seems Australia have decided in the run-up to the World Cup that under no circumstances would they opt for a lower gear. Sometimes it paid dividends, sometimes it didn’t, but by the end of the day the Aussies proved that 269 was a good score on a pitch like that. Marsh and Head, making the most of the field restrictions, had 68 on the board by the 11th over.
It was at this point that Pandya (3/44) intervened. Mohammed Shami and Mohammed Siraj had gone for some runs and one felt Hardik could be the weaker link on a track helpful for spinners. But the all-rounder chose to stick to an off-stump line and maintained a length that wasn’t exactly driveable. Wickets of Head, Steve Smith and Marsh were the fruits of that discipline and India were right back in the game.
By this time, the ball was stopping and a few were turning a bit. While left-arm finger-spinners Axar Patel and Ravindra Jadeja looked to keep it tight, chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav (3/56) was the standout.
He looked to bowl slightly faster through the air and the turn that he was getting was making it difficult for the likes of Warner and Marnus Labuschagne. Both tried to counter-attack but gave their wickets away at crucial junctures.
#TeamIndia came close to the target but it’s Australia who won the third and final ODI by 21 runs.#INDvAUS |… https://t.co/hGach2rC1v
— BCCI (@BCCI) 1679503928000