Sydney, November 29
Australia buried India under an avalanche of runs for a 51-run win in the second ODI to take an unassailable 2-0 series lead after Steve Smith produced another masterclass in with a 64-ball 104 today.
Batting first, Australia rode on five 50-plus scores, including Smith’s blazing knock, to post an imposing 389/4 against a sluggish India. This was the Australian run-machine’s fifth century against India in the 50-over format and second on the trot after his 66-ball 105 in the series-opener two days ago.
A target of 390 proved to be too much for India as they were stopped at 338/9, with captain Virat Kohli (89) and KL Rahul (76) finishing as their main contributors in what turned out to be another forgettable outing for the beleaguered visitors.
India started the big chase in earnest with the in-from Shikhar Dhawan (30) and Mayank Agarwal (28) dealing in boundaries from the start. Agarwal found the fence twice in the first over and Dhawan struck Mitchell Starc for three successive fours to get the Indian innings going. A magnificent cover drive by Agarwal took the visitors past 50 in 6.1 overs. However, in trying to go for one too many, Dhawan perished.
In came Kohli and as he has done mostly through his illustrious career, the Indian captain played some delightful shots on way to his 87-ball innings to keep the visitors in with a chance. During his stay in the middle, Kohli pulled, drove, flicked and cut with effect as India tried to keep the required rate within 9-10 runs per over.
But pacer Josh Hazlewood provided Australia the big breakthrough when he had Kohli caught brilliantly by a diving Moises Henriques at midwicket. That brought Hardik Pandya into the middle and the all-rounder, in the company of Rahul, played some big shots. But they were never going to be enough. Rahul departed after striking five sixes and four boundaries in his 66-ball knock, and that effectively ended India’s hopes.
Besides Smith’s 104, swashbuckling opener David Warner smashed 83 off 77 balls while skipper Aaron Finch contributed 60 in a first-wicket stand of 142 in 22.5 overs. The duo of Marnus Labuschagne and Glenn Maxwell continued the onslaught to propel Australia to a humongous score in what was a must-win game for the visitors. Labuschagne made 70 and the big-hitting Maxwell blazed away to 63 off 29 balls with the help of four sixes and as many fours.
Smith hit 14 boundaries and two sixes while Warner found the fence seven times and cleared it thrice before missing out on what would have been a well-deserved ton, thanks to a direct throw from the deep by Shreyas Iyer. In his trademark unconventional manner, Smith played shots all round the wicket to torment the Indians.
To dislodge Smith, India needed Pandya to bowl for the first time since returning from a back surgery more than a year ago, and he did the trick in his third over, luring the imperious Australian to slash one straight to Mohammed Shami. — PTI