Glenn Maxwell played a sensational knock at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) to lead Australia to a thrilling three-wicket win over India in the third One-Day International (ODI) on 17 January. The win at Melbourne also helped the Aussies seal the five-match series 3-0.
Maxwell, who was unlucky to miss out on his hundred, smashed a blistering 83-ball 96 with eight fours and three massive sixes to lead Australia's run-chase. The visitors were in a spot of bother with Indian bowlers bowling in the right areas including the likes of Ravindra Jadeja and Umesh Yadav.
Jadeja took 2-49 while Ishant Sharma ended his spell at 2-53 as the Indians produced a much-improved performance with the ball. Yadav, who conceded 68 runs in 9.5 overs, also took two important wickets but proved a tad too expensive for India.
Australia got off to a steady start with Aaron Finch (21) and Shaun Marsh (62) adding 48 runs for the first wicket. Finch was soon dismissed by Yadav in the eighth over which brought the in-form Steve Smith (41) to the crease.
Marsh and Smith caressed the Indian bowlers to stitch a 64-run partnership for the second wicket. However, in the 19th over, Jadeja forced an edge from Smith which was caught by Ajinkya Rahane at first slip. Following Smith's dismissal, Jadeja struck again to get rid of the dangerous George Bailey (23) with a flash of brilliance behind the stumps by MS Dhoni.
India began to take hold of the game with the likes of Sharma, Jadeja and Yadav bowling in the right areas to deny the free-flow of runs to the Australian batsmen. But soon, Maxwell began playing his strokes and took the game away from the Indian team.
Maxwell was finally dismissed by Yadav in the 49th over but the damage was already done. James Faulkner (21*) scored the winning runs on the very next ball to inflict third consecutive ODI defeat on the visiting Indians.
Earlier, after being asked to bat first, Indian cricket team suffered an early blow as the in-form batsman Rohit Sharma (6) was sent back into the hut by Kane Richardson in the fifth over. Shikhar Dhawan (68), who has struggled in the series so far, stitched a 119-run partnership for the second wicket with Virat Kohli (117) to steady the ship for the visitors.
However, the southpaw failed to build on his start and gave his wicket away with a poor shot to John Hastings. Following Dhawan's dismissal, Ajinkya Rahane (50) gave adequate support to Kohli as the duo added 109 runs for the third wicket.
Kohli, who notched up his 24th ODI hundred, also brought up his 7,000 runs in the 50-over format. The Delhi lad reached the milestone in his 161st innings and 169th match - fastest among the 36 batsmen who achieved the feat. He surpassed South Africa's AB de Villiers who reached it in his 166th innings and 172nd match.
With two set batsmen at the crease, India looked destined to go past 300 or even add a few more with a final flourish at the end. But, against the popular perception and similar to the past two ODIs, the Indian batsmen failed to capitalise the fielding restrictions in the last 15 overs as the hosts fell short by 20-odd runs once again.
Hastings struck in the 45th over to dismiss Rahane who was caught at deep midwicket while looking to smash a six. Kohli, too, couldn't survive in the death overs and finally fell prey to Hastings who finished off his spell at 4-58 in 10 overs.
After missing out in the first two matches, Indian captain MS Dhoni did find the sweet spot on his bat this time around. The right-hander smashed a quickfire nine-ball 23 including two fours and two sixes to give India a much-needed boost in the death overs.