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Maxwell special seals series for Australia

Host powers to unassailable 3-0 lead with three-wicket win as India fails to make the most of Kohli century

Maxwell special seals series for Australia - Cricket News
Glenn Maxwell scored 96 from 83 balls to help Australia win the third ODI against India
An Australian team lacking several first-choice options, particularly among bowlers, had enough depth to win the five-match One-Day International series against a full-strength Indian squad at the earliest possible opportunity, with a three-wicket win in the third One-Day International at Melbourne on Sunday (January 17). Victory gave the home side an unassailable 3-0 lead, India’s 295 for 6 chased down in 48.5 overs at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
India’s innings had been held together by Virat Kohli’s sublime run-a-ball 117, but a dawdling stay by Shikhar Dhawan meant India didn’t get to the 330-ish total Mahendra Singh Dhoni had spoken of targeting before the match, despite the captain’s late flourish.
That India still made a fist of it was down to Ravindra Jadeja’s superb spell, aided by Dhoni’s own quicksilver, street-smart glovework. But having prised out Australia’s top four inside 30 overs, India ran into Glenn Maxwell. Maxwell played the best innings of the match, counter-punching under pressure, keeping calm, and guiding Australia home.
Every one of Maxwell’s 96 runs was worth its weight in gold. For each of the 83 balls he faced, he had to decide whether to rein his attacking instincts in, or play in the manner that comes naturally. For most of the innings, Maxwell chose wisely and well, until holing out in the 49th over while searching for the big hit that would get him to three figures when Australia had drawn level with India’s score.
But that wasn’t enough to derail Australia, the standout feature of Maxwell’s knock being how whenever India threatened to come back, he took a heavy toll of the next over – or three – to bring the home side right back into the contest.
Australia’s chase had begun in rollicking fashion, and given the form of the top order, it seemed as if an early finish was on the cards. Shaun Marsh and Aaron Finch feasted on some ordinary bowling by Barinder Sran, Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav. India had gone in with two debutants, Gurkeerat Singh Mann and Rishi Dhawan replacing Manish Pandey and R Ashwin, and given how well Jadeja bowled for his 2 for 49, the omission of Ashwin seemed strange, particularly at a ground as large as the Melbourne Cricket Ground where even hitting a spinner out of the park wouldn’t be quite so easy.
Finch had fallen early, but with Marsh and Steven Smith timing the ball well, Australia was coasting, until Jadeja spun one enough past Smith to catch the outside edge and land into Ajinkya Rahane’s waiting hands at slip. A few overs later, Jadeja got George Bailey to drag his foot out a millimetre, but that was all the space Dhoni needed to effect one of his lightning-quick stumpings. Jadeja had seen the back of its two chief tormentors, and there was more joy for India when Marsh nicked Ishant behind soon after, leaving Australia 167 for 4, with 129 to get from the last 20 overs and an undercooked middle-order exposed.
But Maxwell was equal to the task. The three overs after Shaun Marsh was dismissed were taken for 27 runs. Mitchell Marsh, back in the side at Joel Paris’s expense, found his feet quickly alongside Maxwell. The younger Marsh was run out when Dhoni outfoxed him, staying away from the stumps until the last moment, and then collecting the throw from long-off to break them with the batsman an inch short. When Matthew Wade followed soon after, Australia was 215 for 6, but Maxwell’s stand with James Faulkner brought 80 runs in just 63 balls as fluttering hearts were becalmed.
Australia had made it three consecutive chases of totals above, or near, 300 inside a week, an emphatic statement in itself. That it had so many in front of it in the third ODI was down to how well Kohli found the gaps in the vast MCG outfield with unerring timing, working the ball and the field around to make the century he had been threatening all series long.

Kohli’s ton made it three centuries in three matches for India, but couldn’t prevent a third straight loss. He had walked in at 15 for 1 in the fifth over, India having lost Rohit Sharma, the man who made the first two hundreds, for his first cheap score in the series when he poked at Kane Richardson to be caught behind.
Australia had opted to give John Hastings another run in the XI, packing the side with three allrounders, and Hastings repaid the decision handsomely, with 4 for 58 and some good bowling at the death that denied India too much of a lift-off.
India batted first once again, this time by invitation rather than choice with Smith reckoning that the surface would get easier to bat on as the day wore on.
It certainly seemed a difficult surface at the start of India’s innings, with Dhawan never really breaking free from the poor form that has dogged him in the past season. However, Kohli picked up the slack. The Indian vice-captain has looked in good touch in each of his three innings, and during this knock, he also became the quickest to reach 7,000 ODI runs, getting there when on 20 in his 161st innings. It was also the quickest anyone has got to 24 ODI centuries.
Dhawan did find some fluency towards the back end of his innings, but couldn’t kick on and cover up, falling for 68 off 91 balls.
The Kohli-Dhawan stand had been worth 119 in 134 balls, and India enjoyed its best batting phase when Rahane joined forces with Kohli. Rahane made another half-century, his third in a row. Both Kohli and Rahane kept the scoreboard busy, and rotated the strike well, while also finding the boundary.
The shot of the innings came when Kohli stepped down the track to lift Scott Boland straight back, the ball making an audibly sweet crack as it left bat and found spectators behind long-on an instant later. Rahane fell to one of the athletic fielding feats that appear to be commonplace nowadays. Having slapped Hastings to wide long-on, the batsman saw Smith run around, hold the ball and flick-throw it to Maxwell before momentum carried him over the rope. The 109-run stand for the third wicket came off only 105 balls, and at 243 for 3 with 34 balls remaining, India could carry on with the final charge.
Dhoni himself provided most of the hitting power in the final phase, and took India to a competitive score. Against an inspired Maxwell though, no competitive score would ever be enough.

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