Australia hold on for ODI number one ranking and rare series win in India

By Sports Desk March 22, 2023

Steve Smith's gamble to bat first in Chennai paid off as Australia's 21-run victory over India clinched their ODI series and the number one ranking.

Australia headed into Wednesday's third and final match with the series level at 1-1, looking to end India's best ever seven-series winning streak at home.

Brave captaincy from Smith was required to do that, with Australia batting first on a dry and soft surface and scoring 269.

No touring batsman was able to build on a strong start, but the same was then true of the India line-up – Virat Kohli leading the way on 54 but out cheaply – as their target proved just beyond them.

The two innings followed similar patterns, with Travis Head and Mitchell Marsh combining for 68 before the former was caught for 33 three balls after being dropped.

Marsh went on to score 47, but Smith was unable to contribute as he departed for a duck, while each of the next five batters passed 20 but did not reach 40.

It left Australia with a competitive score but one India would have been confident of matching after their own opening stand of 65.

Even after a pair of wickets, the home side rallied to 146-2 with Kohli in fine form.

But Adam Zampa (4-45) and Ashton Agar (2-41) worked through the middle order, meaning Kohli's surprise departure to the latter – picking out David Warner at long-off – represented a blow that ultimately cost India.

Australia bookend India's winning run

Australia's win in the second ODI had snapped India's nine-match winning run in home ODIs, and another sequence was ended on Wednesday.

This was India's first defeat in a multi-game ODI series at home since Australia beat them 3-2 back in March 2019.

Kohli's needless departure

After sharing a 69-run partnership with KL Rahul that set India back on track after two wickets, Kohli looked set to play a part in another strong stand for the fifth wicket.

But after combining for 34 with Hardik Pandya – who scored 28 of those runs off 20 balls – the great batsman gave Warner a simple, vital catch.

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