3rd ODI: Khawaja, Finch stand trumps Kohli 123 as Australia stay alive
Virat Kohli's dismissal for 123 to Adam Zampa snuffed out India's chase. © AFP

Virat Kohli‘s 41st ODI century threatened to take India to an unassailable 3-0 lead, but in the end Australia hung on to close out a 32-run win in Ranchi that has allowed them to hope.

Set a target of 314 after Usman Khawaja scored his first ODI hundred and Aaron Finch roared back to form with a brisk 93, India’s found themselves indebted to Kohli once again following another poor start, but once he was dismissed for a scintillating 123 off 95 balls the chase petered out.

India were bowled out for 281 in 48.2 overs. (3rd ODI SCORECARD)

Put in to bat by Kohli – who won his first toss in five games – Australia made 313/5 after Khawaja and Finch put on Australia’s first century opening stand in ten ODIs – the last came on June 21, 2018 – and third overall in the past two years. They looked good for 350 before losing three wickets in 11 deliveries, and only managed 74 run in their last 11 overs, but thanks to a fine start from Pat Cummins and Jhye Richardson and Adam Zampa’s dismissals of Kohli, MS Dhoni and Kedar Jadhav, a total of 313 was enough. (AS IT HAPPENED: INDIA vs AUSTRALIA, 3rd ODI)

India’s chase was rocked early by Australia’s new-ball pair. Shikhar Dhawan’s lean run continued as he cut Jhye to Glenn Maxwell at point on 1, Rohit Sharma got one from Cummins that nipped in and was given lbw after Australia reviewed the not-out decision. Ambati Rayudu then got a ripper from Cummins, 144kph fast, hitting a near-perfect length and then moving away to beat the bat and hit the stumps.

For a man whose place at No 4 in this lineup is suddenly looking shaky, Rayudu can point to a very good delivery.

Enter Dhoni at 27/3, with his home town fans in anticipation of something special. His first run came off seven balls faced and made 26 off 42 during a stand of 59 with Kohli, who kept up a superb tempo by managing to find the boundary. Kohli’s driving, in particular, and leg-side play was astounding and this kept Australia frustrated.

His half-century came up off 52 balls to cue a period of acceleration which moved Kohli from 50 to 100 in 33 deliveries. Marcus Stoinis was expertly twirled for consecutive fours, Nathan Lyon deflected for the boundary that took Kohli past Rahul Dravid to third in India’s all-time ODI run table, and Richardson disdainfully swatted for fours that moved him into the nineties.

Jadhav looked good for his 26, which ended when he missed a sweep off Zampa to end a stand of 88. Hundred number 41 came up for Kohli with a couple worked through midwicket, which he celebrated by hitting Zampa for six and then kissing his bat. Consecutive fours off Zampa followed, but the legspinner had the final say when he bowled him with a googly. That left India to get 95 from 12.3 overs.

Vijay Shankar (32) and Ravindra Jadeja (24) tried to take the chase deep but Richardson and Cummins finished strongly to stub out the fire.

Usman Khawaja and Aaron Finch laid the platform for Australia's dominance
Usman Khawaja and Aaron Finch laid the platform for Australia’s dominance. © AFP

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 which proved massive in the end result.

After opting to field, Kohli 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.

The first sight of 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.

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 above 90 all innings.

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. 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 Dhoni saw Maxwell run out for 47 off 31 balls and then Kuldeep removed Shaun Marsh and Peter Handscomb in the 44th over. A 50-run stand between Stoinis (31* from 26) and Alex Carey (21* off 17) got Australia to 313.

Brief scores: Australia 313/5 in 50 overs (Finch 93, Khawaja 104) beat India 281 in 48.2 overs (Kohli 123) by 32 runs