3rd ODI: Finch-Khawaja stand sets base for Australia’s 313
Usman Khawaja and Aaron Finch laid the platform for Australia's dominance. © AFP

Australia‘s first century opening stand in ten ODIs – the last came on June 21, 2018 – and third overall in the past two years, powered by Aaron Finch and Usman Khawaja has taken Australia to 313/5 in the third ODI in Ranchi.

It should have been a lot more, but led by Kuldeep Yadav, India grabbed three wickets for five runs in 11 deliveries to slow the pace of the innings. From 239/1 in the 39th over, Australia managed 74 runs in their last 11 overs. It still could prove a winning total, but there is no denying India have grabbed some momentum.

Finch’s first 50-plus score in an ODI had also come on June 21, 2018 and ten innings later he emerged from a prolonged run of low scores to muscle his way to 93 off 99 balls, with ten fours and three sixes, in a partnership of 193 with Khawaja scored his first hundred, a well-compiled 104 off 113.

In a must-win game, Finch and Khawaja gave Australia a terrific start but it may not prove enough to prevent a series loss. (3rd ODI SCORECARD)

Virat Kohli sent Australia in to bat keeping in mind the dew expected later on Friday evening, but looked on in frustration as Finch and Khawaja survived appeals and run-outs while hitting freely to post the seventh-highest opening stand in Australia’s ODI history. Finch has featured in three of those, including two above 200.

His first scoring shot came off his second ball faced, a stand-tall-and-force punch into the covers for four off Jasprit Bumrah to signal a hint of form. Another four followed two balls later, after which India reviewed a not-out verdict when Finch was hurried into a false shot by a very fast inswinger. He survived, and then took Kuldeep Yadav for two fours in his opening over to exert his presence. (UPDATES: INDIA VS AUSTRALIA, 3rd ODI)

The first sight of Kedar Jadhav prompted Finch to swing the first six of the game, a big mow across the line that flew over long-on. Jadhav’s second over cost 19, of which 16 came in in three successive balls. A rasping cut shot for four, sandwiched between two muscular sixes, raised his half-century from 51 balls. Moments later, Rohit Sharma over-ran the ball at long leg to give Finch four more.

India’s spinners belted out appeals when sharply-turning deliveries were mistimed, and on one occasion Finch nearly dragged the ball onto his stumps, but otherwise it was a period of toil for the home team on a dry batting strip.

Khawaja followed Finch to his own half-century, off 56 balls. While Finch hammered away, he coolly deflected the ball off the stumps and used his crease to cut and steer into the offside. Even the slightest bit of room was punished by Khawaja, who kept his strike-rate just above 90 all innings. On 77, he slog-swept Kuldeep for six to move past Finch and into the eighties. Off the last ball of the over, Finch swept four to overtake Khawaja.

Finch’s tenth four – a sumptuous drive off Kuldeep into the covers – took him to 91. On 93, Finch was adjudged lbw to Kuldeep, a decision he challenged after consultation with Khawaja. Replays showed the ball hitting middle and leg, and off walked Finch after adding 193 in 31.5 overs.

Glenn Maxwell earned a promotion to No 3 and threatened serious damage during his 31-ball 47. His fifth ball was miscued for a straight six that raised Australia’s 200, and then he targeted Ravindra Jadeja by smacking him for a flat six over long-on followed by fours through midwicket and extra cover.

Khawaja raised his maiden century off 107 balls with a twirl for one, soaked in the appreciation and was out moments later when he pulled Mohammed Shami straight to midwicket.

From 239/2 in the 39th over, Australia looked poised to get at least 350 but India pulled matters back. A brilliant flick onto the stumps from MS Dhoni saw Maxwell run out and then Kuldeep removed Shaun Marsh and Peter Handscomb in the 44th over as Australia lost three wickets for five runs. Marsh made 7 off 12 balls before chipping to long-on and Handscomb was pinned lbw for 0. For the second game in a row, Kuldeep took three very important wickets.

Bumrah conceded three runs from the 46th over, seven in the 48th and ten from the last in another terrific display of bowling at the death. Australia found the boundary just six times in the last five overs, with Marcus Stoinis finishing on 31 from 26 and Alex Carey 21 off 17 in a stand worth 50.

Brief scores: Australia 313/5 in 50 overs (Finch 93, Khawaja 104) vs India