Both Bailey (98) and Maxwell (92) missed out on well-deserved centuries after their gritty stand revived Australia from a top-order collapse masterminded by India seamer Shami Ahmed.
Shami was impressive on his return game for India, taking three wickets early on to put the pressure on Australia. But, Australia bounced back in an impressive manner, riding on a strong fifth-wicket stand, to post a strong total of 295 for eight in their 50 overs.
India did something which they hadn’t done so far in the series — get early wickets in order to put pressure on the Australian middle-order. Australia lost their in-form opener Aaron Finch in the second over of the game as he was cleaned up by Shami for five. Finch didn’t read an incoming delivery and played across the line, losing his wicket.
After Finch’s dismissal in the second over, Shami provided India their second breakthrough in the sixth, getting Phil Hughes (11) caught by skipper MS Dhoni to leave the tourists struggling at 28 for two. India would have claimed the third wicket soon — had Virat Kohli not spilled a catch the second slip off Shami on the next ball after Hughes’s wicket to give a lifeline to Australia skipper Bailey.
Finch’s dismissal had brought Shane Watson at the crease, and he started off well by hitting two boundaries off Jaydev Unadkat in the fifth over of the game. During the eighth over, rain forced players to walk off the field for a brief interval. Perhaps the break worked in favour of Shami, who returned to rattle Australia once again as he cleaned up Watson for 14.
Bailey, having given a reprieve, tried to provide Australia some much-needed momentum as he took the attack to R Vinay Kumar thrashing him for 14 runs in his first over of the game.
Australia were steadied for a while by Bailey and Adam Voges, but just when they started opening up, India spinner Ravichandran Ashwin pegged them back with the dismissal of Voges in the 15th over. Voges tried to sweep a ball pitched on the middle and off-stump line but missed to connect with the ball and was declared out LBW.
After Voges’s fall, in-form batsman Maxwell joined Bailey at the crease in a bid to bail Australia out of trouble. The two Australians batted cautiously not to allow Indian bowlers to make any more damage, and they got enough chances to continue in the middle by the Indian fielders. Bailey was dropped thrice, while Maxwell got lucky once. After Kohli dropped Bailey on the very first ball he faced, in the 20th over of the match, Vinay Kumar missed out on taking a wicket when Ashwin spilled another, fielding at mid-on while Bailey was on 36.
Bailey and Maxwell provided Australia a crucial partnership in the middle after they lost their way earlier in the innings. Bailey scored a run-a-ball half-century with the help of two boundaries and a six, whereas Maxwell played his fair share in the strategy of saving the wickets and rotating the strike in order to keep the scoreboard ticking.
Both the Australian batsmen punished the Indian part-timers, especially after the 25th over. Yuvraj Singh was hit for two boundaries in the 26th, whereas Unadkat’s return for the second spell proved futile as he was carted for 12 runs in the one over that he bowled.
Maxwell opened up after bringing up his half-century, clobbering two sixes off Ravindra Jadeja, whereas Suresh Raina was hit for two consecutive fours in the 33rd over of the game by Australian captain Bailey.
It was in the 35th over when Maxwell got a lifeline, with skipper Dhoni failing to grab an edge off Raina.
Bailey had scored off every ball that was dropped short, but he missed out to connect well on one that was bowled short by Vinay Kumar. The ball took a leading edge, went high in the air and Rohit Sharma at deep mid-wicket took a fine catch to deprive the Australian captain his second ODI hundred. Bailey cracked seven boundaries and three sixes during his innings of 98 off 94 balls.
Australia were jolted soon after Bailey’s wicket, as Jadeja cleaned up Brad Haddin for three in the next over.
It seemed that the fall of wickets from the other end had no effect on Maxwell who continued to impress with stroke play around the ground. The right-hander chipped Vinay Kumar for a six over the fine-leg fielder, but two balls later, played an atrocious shot across the line and umpire Richard Kettleborough had no qualms in judging him out leg-before. Maxwell’s 92 came from just 77 balls, studded with six boundaries and five sixes.
Towards the end, a crucial 43–run stand for the eighth wicket helped Australia reach 295 for eight.
Australia 295 for 8 in 50 overs (George Bailey 98, Glenn Maxwell 92; Shami Ahmed 3 for 42) vs India.