Crescent Kashmir

Australia finish with a modest total after middle-order collapse

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Australia suffered a dramatic collapse in the final ODI at Chennai, to finish with a modest total of after threatening to get much more.

Having opted to bat on a dry surface at the MA Chidambaram stadium, Australia had rollicked in the powerplay thanks to some uninhibited batting by their openers. Travis Head and Mitchell Marsh. Bearing the brunt of their onslaught were India’s lead pacers Mohammad Shami and Mohammad Siraj. The duo dealt in boundaries mainly in between dot balls, striking six fours and two sixes within the first eight overs. The onslaught continued even when spin was introduced in the form of Axar Patel.

It was only with the introduction of Hardik Pandya in the 11th over did India manage to pull things back. Hardik saw Head being put down on 17 by Shubman Gill at deep square leg but had him caught at third man in the same over to make sure that the damage was minimised. He added to his tally by getting Australia’s skipper Steve Smith caught behind in his next over for a duck. With a mixture of cutters and back of length balls, Hardik put off the batters from their free-flowing strokeplay.

The cherry on top in that spell was the wicket of Mitchell Marsh, falling three short of what could have been three consecutive fifties in the series. A cutter from Hardik saw Marsh hanging back and throw his bat out only to get an inside edge onto the stumps.

The quick wickets combined with the disciplined bowling from Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav helped apply the squeeze on Australia. The latter, with more attacking lines and lengths tied down David Warner and Marnus Labuschagne briefly even as they put on a 40-run stand. But with the pressure building both succumbed trying to hit out against Yadav and holing out to long off.

At 138/5, Australia were in danger of being bowled out for a below-par score. However, enterprising partnerships from the lower order – 58 between Alex Carey and Marcus Stoinis and 42 between Sean Abbott and Ashton Agar – helped Australia get past the 250-run mark. Although all four got off to starts, India’s spinners kept hitting back. Kuldeep spun one past Carey’s defence while Axar got the better of Stoinis and Abbott as they attempted to hit out against him.

Mohammad Siraj bagged a couple of wickets that helped hasten the end with Australia being bowled out in 49 overs.

Brief Scores: Australia 269 all out (Mitchell Marsh 47; Hardik Pandya 3-44, Kuldeep Yadav 3-56) vs India

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