Australia captain Aaron Finch rued the absence of a set batsman in the slog overs of the third one-day international against India, which his team lost by seven wickets in Bengaluru, to concede the three-match series 2-1.
Australia stumbled from a strong platform, set up by a third-wicket partnership of 127 between Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne, to end up with 286/9 – a below-par score at the Chinnaswamy surface.
In all, Australia lost five wickets in the last 10 overs. The regular strikes meant that the last three overs yielded just 13 runs to cap the total at well under 300.
"I think probably guys not getting through to those last couple of overs [hurt us]," Finch said. "I think in the last two games, we have had the bowlers batting for the majority of the last few overs. We saw in Rajkot, the damage that KL [Rahul] could do in the back end because he was a settled batter. I think that's an area we just missed a couple of tricks. Just not having an in batter being in and having faced 20 or 30 balls to get us deeper and get us to the back end.
Part of the reason for that was the relentless accuracy of India’s fast bowlers at the death. In both Rajkot and Bengaluru, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah and Navdeep Saini uncorked a stream of yorkers, leaving the batsmen with zero room to react.
It brought about the dismissal of Pat Cummins in identical fashion in both games, clean bowled off the first ball he faced, against Mohammed Shami. “Credit to India, their death bowling in the last few games was exceptional,” Finch said. “Shami was nailing his yorkers, Saini in the last two games, and Bumrah. In both games, they were exceptional. You can look at where we could have improved, but also you've got to give some credit to India. They were unbelievable at the death.”
Australia tried to catch India off guard by bumping Mitchell Starc up to No.5, ahead of Alex Carey, Ashton Turner and Ashton Agar, to counter India’s spinners. But the move failed, as Starc perished three balls after the Smith-Labuschagne partnership was broken, for a duck, allowing India to widen their opening.
I think in the last two games, we have had the bowlers batting for the majority of the last few overs.
Explaining the move, Finch said: "We felt as though it was an aggressive move, especially against the left-arm spin. He can smack a few, and if he went out there and hit a couple of sixes, we were hoping it could potentially change their tactics and they would have to bring one of their quicks back earlier. That just didn't happen.
“Myself and Andrew [McDonald, the head coach for the tour] spoke about it before the first game. We felt as though Mumbai probably wasn't the right surface, but felt here was, especially against Jadeja, the left-arm spinner spinning it into him. He just didn't hit it out of the middle. I still support the move 100 per cent, it just didn't come off today. But it was definitely an aggressive move.”
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