By Chetan Nurala, Associated Press
NAGPUR, India (AP) — Rohit Sharma scored his 14th ODI hundred as India reached 243-3 in 42.5 overs to beat Australia by seven wickets in the fifth one-day international at Nagpur on Sunday.
India completed a 4-1 series victory. After dropping the first three games of the series, Australia won the fourth ODI in Bengaluru by 31 runs, but the visitors could not build on the maiden victory.
“It was a really convincing series win for us. We ticked all boxes. We were put under pressure many times and we came back four times to win four games,” India captain Virat Kohli said. “We have a good headache regarding selection and that makes my job as captain very easy.”
Sharma scored 125 runs off 109 balls, his fourth half-century of the series, which included 11 fours and five sixes. In all, he amassed 296 runs to finish as the highest run-scorer of the series as India retook the top spot in the ICC ODI rankings.
“I love playing against Australia. They are competitive and never give anything easily. That probably brings out the best in me,” said Sharma, after he was named man of the match.
Chasing 243, Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane (61) provided another strong start for the hosts. They added 124 runs for the opening wicket, their third-successive century stand in this series.
On a slow, tough wicket, the duo put on 50 off 69 balls and then crossed the 100 mark off 113 balls. Sharma reached his half-century off 52 balls.
At the other end, Rahane also scored his fourth successive half-century of the series — and 23rd overall — off 64 balls. Overall, he finished with an aggregate 244 runs.
Looking set to get a hundred, Rahane was out lbw to Nathan Coulter-Nile (1-42) in the 23rd over against the run of play. He requested a DRS review but it was turned down.
Kohli (39) then joined Sharma in the middle and put on 99 runs for the second wicket. They helped India cross 200 in the 37th over, making batting look easy on a pitch where Australian batsmen struggled to get going.
Meanwhile, Sharma completed his hundred off 94 balls. This was his sixth ODI hundred against Australia, equaling Desmond Haynes (West Indies) and now second only to Sachin Tendulkar (India), who has nine centuries against the Aussies.
In doing so, Sharma also became the third-quickest Indian batsman to register 6,000 ODI runs, crossing the mark in his 162nd innings, behind Kohli (136) and Sourav Ganguly (147).
Both Sharma and Kohli were dismissed in the 40th over off Adam Zampa (2-59). The former was caught at deep midwicket, while the latter holed out to long off.
Kedar Jadhav (5 not out) and Manish Pandey (11 not out) got the remaining runs.
Earlier, David Warner had top scored with 53 runs off 62 balls as Australia were restricted to 242-9 in 50 overs. Axar Patel (3-38) took three wickets as the visitors struggled on a slow wicket after at one stage being reduced to 118-4.
Opting to bat after winning the toss, Australia got off to a good start with Warner and Aaron Finch (32) putting on 66 runs for the first wicket. Their 50 partnership had come off 49 balls as the duo made good on their form.
Following his hundred in the last game, Warner reached his 17th ODI half-century off 56 balls. But Finch couldn’t go on as Hardik Pandya (1-14) broke the partnership in the 12th over when Jasprit Bumrah made a catch at mid-off look very easy, managing to hold on and force Finch to walk back.
Australia’s 100 came up in the 20th over as Warner put on 34 runs with Steve Smith (16). Then Kedar Jadhav (1-48) provided the second breakthrough as he trapped Smith lbw shortly after with the Australian skipper out sweeping.
In the 23rd over, Warner holed out to long on off Patel as Australia were dealt a quick double blow. Two overs later, the visitors were in serious trouble when Patel also snapped up Peter Handscomb (13) who was out sweeping with Ajinkya Rahane running back from slip to complete the catch.
Australia could have been in deeper trouble still but an 87-run partnership between Travis Head (42) and Marcus Stoinis (46) for the fifth wicket saved them. The duo batted with patience to counter India’s spin attack and put on 50 runs in 64 balls to keep the scoreboard turning over.
They helped the total move past 200 in the 42nd over. Neither batsman though could manage to get a big score.
Head went first, bowled off Patel in the 43rd over, as he tried to force the scoring pace. In all, he faced 59 balls and scored four fours.
Stoinis had earlier survived an lbw shout off Kuldeep Yadav (0-48) via DRS review. But two overs later, Jasprit Bumrah (2-51) trapped him lbw, this time a DRS review could not save him. He faced 63 balls and hit four fours as well as a six.
Matthew Wade (20) reached double figures for the first time in the series but it wasn’t enough as he holed out in the deep off Bumrah again.
He had put on 27 runs with James Faulkner (12) as India’s tight bowling in late overs just didn’t let the scoring rate get away, limiting the visitors to 52 runs for five wickets in the last 10 overs.
Faulkner was run-out in the last over with Bhuvneshwar Kumar (1-40) also accounting for Nathan Coulter-Nile (0) as Australia finished with a below-par total.
Pandya was named man-of-the-series for 222 runs, including two half-centuries, and six wickets in five matches.
“It was probably a 300 wicket. One of the top four batsmen needed to make a big score but we lost wickets in clumps again,” Smith said. “We have been outplayed and deserved to lose 4-1. A lot of our players have played a lot of cricket in India and we cannot use that as an excuse … We have a few days until the T20 series. We would like to go home with a trophy.”
The three-match T20 series begins on Saturday.
By Chetan Nurala, Associated Press