MELBOURNE: Glenn Maxwell blasted 96 from just 83 deliveries to lead Australia to a thrilling three-wicket win over India in the third ODI on Sunday to seal the five-match series 3-0.
After Australian captain Steve Smith won the toss at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) and sent India in to bat, the visitors made 295-6 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 215-6. But Maxwell, who was dismissed trying to hit a boundary to reach his century when the scores were level, combined with James Faulkner to guide Australia home.
“The wicket was quite slow so I had to try and hit the ball in front of square,” said Maxwell. “I tried to hit them as clean as I could over cover and luckily enough they came off the middle.”
The hard-hitting all-rounder, nicknamed The Big Show, said he wants to shed that tag. “I feel like I’ve been making big strides over the last few months,” he added. “The way I’m hitting the ball and approaching the game is different to what I’ve been doing over the last few years.”
The win gives Australia an unassailable 3-0 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.
Indian captain MS Dhoni felt poor fielding had once again cost his side. “It’s tough to take,” he admitted. “We didn’t field well tonight. There were at least three boundaries we should have easily stopped.”
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.
“The batsmen are working hard but we’re always talking about 10-15 extra runs,” added Dhoni. “This was a slightly different wicket but there was not much the batsmen could have done — 295 was a good total.”
Earlier, Kohli was in magnificent touch as he smashed a run-a-ball century, the 24th of his career, 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 ODIs, taking 161 innings to reach the milestone — four fewer than South Africa’s AB de Villiers.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 18th, 2016.
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