Canberra: Batting first did bring a change in fortune for Virat Kohli and boys as India defeated Australia by 13 runs in the third and final ODI of the three-match series at the Manuka Oval on Wednesday.
While India opened their account in the ODI Super League with the win, Australia took the series 2-1. Luck was India's side to begin with as Kohli won the toss for the first time in the series and decided to bat. While the top-order failed to fire in unison, the middle-order rose to the challenge and both Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja played match-winning knocks of 92 and 66 respectively to guide India to 302/5.
The addition of Shardul Thakur, T Natarajan, and Kuldeep Yadav also rejuvenated the bowling as the side was finally able to take wickets at regular intervals. For the first time in the last six ODIs, the Men in Blue also managed to take a wicket in the powerplay overs. Aaron Finch played a knock of 75 runs, while Glenn Maxwell and Aston Agar tried their best to take Australia over the line. But in the end, Kohli and boys managed to hang on to register a 13-run win.
Defending 303, debutant T Natarajan sent Marnus Labuschagne (7) back to the pavilion in the sixth over of the innings. In the very next over, Jasprit Bumrah could have dismissed skipper Finch, but Shikhar Dhawan ended up dropping the catch at first slip.
Bringing Thakur into the playing XI paid off for the Men in Blue as he got the prized scalp of Steve Smith (7) in the 12th over, reducing Australia to 56/2. Moises Henriques then joined Finch in the middle and the duo stitched a 61-run stand. However, as soon as the hosts started gaining an upper hand, Thakur and Jadeja provided India with the breakthroughs of Henriques (22) and Finch (75) with Australia still 180 runs away from victory.
Cameron Green (21) and Alex Carey (38) also lost their wickets before the 38-over mark, and it was all down to Glenn Maxwell, who was tasked with ensuring Australia's victory. Maxwell did his best as he went on to play a 59-run knock, but with Australia still needing 35 runs for victory, Jasprit Bumrah clean bowled Maxwell -- in the 45th over -- to revive India's hopes.
After Maxwell's dismissal, T Natarajan and Thakur came to their own and ensured India didn't let the Australians cross the line.
Earlier, Kohli went into the third game with four changes and decided to give Shubman Gill an opportunity at the top of the order. While the batsman hit a 39-ball 33, the opening partnership didn't produce much for the Indians as Shikhar Dhawan was dismissed for 16 by Sean Abbott.
Coming in with the score on 26/1, Kohli once again looked to stay positive and took on the Australian bowlers as he reached the 12,000-ODI runs during the course of his innings of 63. But the Indian middle-order once again failed to rise to the challenge against the Australians as spin partners Adam Zampa and Ashton Agar sent back Shreyas Iyer (19) and KL Rahul (5) respectively.
With the score reading 123/4 in the 26th over, it looked like the Indian batting would fail to repose the faith shown by skipper Kohli in deciding to bat first after winning the toss. But Pandya decided to stick on and build a partnership with Kohli. The two were in fact looking good in the middle when Hazlewood once again sent Kohli back for 63 against the run of play.
The game looked tilted in favour of Australia when Jadeja came in to bat with the score reading 152/5 in the 32nd over. But the spin-bowling all-rounder showed intent from the word go as he took on the Australian bowling. Pandya and Jadeja combined beautifully to compile an unbeaten 150-run partnership as the Indians ensured they finished well. The last eight overs saw the Indian pair go on overdrive mode as they picked 98 runs, 93 of those coming in the last seven.
Brief Scores: India 302/5 (Hardik Pandya 92*, Ravindra Jadeja 66*, Ashton Agar 2-44); Australia 289 (Aaron Finch 75, Glenn Maxwell 59, Shardul Thakur 3-51).