Indian bowlers restricted Australia to a moderate score at Nagpur    AFP
Indian bowlers restricted Australia to a moderate score at Nagpur AFP

The fifth and final ODI between India and Australia was regarded as ‘dead rubber’, but there is plenty to play for both sides. While India would be eager to reclaim the No. 1 spot in ICC ODI rankings, Australia will want to earn a consolation win and take the momentum forward in the upcoming three T20Is. Nonetheless, it is advantage-India after the first innings at Nagpur. They need 243 runs to seal the series 4-1.

On a batting surface at VCA Stadium Nagpur, Australia opted to bat. While Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah started well, the latter was hammered from second over onwards. Aaron Finch and David Warner took visitors to 60 for no loss in the first Powerplay (10 overs). Virat Kohli turned to Hardik Pandya, and the all-rounder delivered yet again. On a good length delivery outside off, Finch tried to clear mid off, toe-ended the ball and Bumrah held onto a catch amidst few fumbles.

Sensing the slowness of the track, Kohli resorted to Kuldeep Yadav and Kedar Jadhav in the middle overs. The duo did not falter. They kept it tight and created wicket-taking opportunities. Jadhav bowled with his low trajectory, and removed Steven Smith for 16. The Aussie skipper went for a sweep, didn’t get the desirable height and was trapped leg before. What followed was the usual middle-order collapse.

From 100 for 1, Australia slipped to 118 for 4. Akshar Patel dented visitors progress further by dismissing Warner and Peter Handscomb. Warner tried to steady the ship after his fifty, but fell against the run of play. In an attempt to work the ball around, he timed one too well and was caught at long on for 53. Handscomb struggled to get going and perished for a 17-ball 13.

Nonetheless, Marcus Stoinis and Travis Head weathered the storm. The pair didn’t start well, and weren’t picking up the length properly. Stoinis, in addition, edged twice off Akshar but managed to find the gap between first slip and MS Dhoni. Stoinis and Head bought time and took chances occasionally.

At 190 for 4 in 40 overs, Australia were in a position to push for 280-290. However, Akshar struck once again. He bowled a yorker, anticipating a sweep from Head, and rattled his stumps for 42. This opened the floodgates for India to wrap up the innings soon. Stoinis followed suit. Bumrah bowled his famous in-cutter to trap Stoinis for 46 and pushed visitors’ on the backfoot just when they were about to accelerate.

Matthew Wade and James Faulkner helped Australia muster 242 for 9 ; a below par score on the surface. India conceded only 52 runs in the last ten overs.

Also, this is the first time Jadhav completed his full quota of overs. In 17 innings bowled, he has attained 16 wickets. Quite impressive numbers for a part-timer!

From Australia’s perspective, Faulkner and Stoinis’ variations and Adam Zampa will hold fort if they have to make it difficult for India under lights.

Brief scores:

Australia 242 for 9 in 50 overs (David Warner 53, Travis Head 42, Marcus Stoinis 46; Akshar Patel 3 for 38, Jasprit Bumrah 2 for 51) vs India.