MELBOURNE: Glenn Maxwell blasted 96 from just 83 deliveries to lead Australia to a thrilling three-wicket win over India in the third one-day international Sunday and take the series.
After Australian captain Steve Smith won the toss at the Melbourne Cricket Ground and sent India in to bat, the visitors made 295 for six from their 50 overs thanks largely to a superb 117 from Virat Kohli.
The Indians were well in contention for their first win of the series when they had Australia in trouble at 215 for six. But Maxwell, who was out just one run short of victory, combined with James Faulkner to guide Australia home.
The win gives Australia an unassailable three-nil lead in the best-of-five series, but the match was much more of a contest than the first two encounters in Perth and Brisbane.
Australia successfully chased down 309 and 308 in the opening two matches. On a lifeless MCG wicket, 295 did not look substantial enough to challenge the strong Australian batting line-up.
Openers Shaun Marsh and Aaron Finch attacked from the outset and cruised in the first few overs, punishing some wayward Indian bowling.
Australia raced to 48 before Finch edged Umesh Yadav to wicketkeeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni for a quickfire 21.
Marsh (62) and Steve Smith (41) continued the assault, but left arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja got the vital breakthrough when he had Smith caught at slip by Ajinkya Rahane.
Jadeja was able to extract some turn from the otherwise placid wicket and struck again when he got a ball to spin past the edge of George Bailey’s bat. Dhoni whipped off the bails to leave the Australians on 150 for three.
Shaun Marsh then edged a ball to Dhoni off Ishant Sharma and when Mitchell Marsh (17) and Matthew Wade (6) both fell cheaply, India were right back in the game.
However, Maxwell remained in control and gradually lifted the scoring with a mixture of audacious boundaries and quick running.
Earlier, Kohli was in magnificent touch as he smashed his runs from just 117 balls, hitting seven fours and two towering sixes to the delight of the huge contingent of Indian supporters at the MCG.
In the process Kohli became the fastest man to reach 7,000 runs in one-day internationals, taking 161 innings to reach the milestone — four fewer than South Africa’s AB de Villiers.
The 27-year-old from Delhi came in with India on 15 for one after in-form opener Rohit Sharma edged Kane Richardson to wicketkeeper Matthew Wade for six. He played superbly to notch up his 24th ODI century.