Australia’s David Warner (left) celebrates his ton against India in the fourth ODI at the M Chinnaswamy stadium on Thursday. Rohit Sharma en route his brisk half-century. DH Photos Srikanta Sharma R.
The marauding opener, who endured an average outing in the opening three games, hit a cracking 124 (119b, 12×4, 4×6) and also shared a brilliant 231-run stand with Aaron Finch (94, 96b) to help Australia post an impressive 334/5 at the Chinnaswamy stadium.
The hosts then kick-started their chase on a superb note, Ajinkya Rahane (53) and Rohit Sharma (65) yet again posting a century stand. But the quick dismissals of Rohit and skipper Virat Kohli (21) just when a strong foundation had been laid saw the hosts in a spot of bother. The trio of Hardik Pandya (41), Kedar Jadhav (67) and Manish Pandey (33) then tried their best but couldn’t pull off the task as India lost by 21 runs.
Openers Rahane and Rohit took off from where they had left off in Indore. Playing genuine shots without taking much risks, they handled lead pacers Pat Cummins and Nathan Coulter-Nile with ease and were on top of back-up acts Kane Richardson and Marcus Stoinis too.
Smith had no option but to introduce Adam Zampa and hope the duo would get out while trying to attack the leg-spinner. But Rohit put him out of the attack instantly, slamming him for two big sixes. Under the pump, Aussies got a breather from nowhere when Rahane played a rash shot and gifted his wicket away.
A brilliant piece of fielding from Smith caught Rohit stranded a little later before Kohli, who surpassed 2000 runs as ODI skipper on the day, played the ball on to his stumps for a second straight time as India wobbled at 147/3.
Pandya and Jadhav, however, showed why this Indian team has achieved such overwhelming success in the recent past. They counter-attacked brilliantly and raised hopes of a back-to-the-wall win. Even when Pandya perished, India were still in the game but the quick exits of Jadhav and Pandey swung the match Aussies way.
Earlier, Warner and Finch, the senior pros in this rebuilding Aussie side that’s not been able to grasp it’s chances, decided to show the way themselves. With India choosing to rest their in-form pacers Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah, things appeared a bit easy facing Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami.
Umesh and Shami, returning to the playing XI following the Sri Lanka Test series, looked a little rusty at the start and that allowed Warner and Finch to settle down. Warner then decided to take the attack to the Indians, hammering some lusty blows with one six even hitting the ceiling. Finch was slow off the mark but as the innings progressed he too maintained a 100 percent strike rate.
They hardly looked in any trouble and went on to obliterate a couple of records as the appreciative crowd lauded their effort. They first surpassed the highest stand for any wicket at this venue — 183 — and also posted the highest ever opening partnership by Australia against India, bettering the 212-run mark set by Geoff Marsh and David Boon ay back in 1986.
Looking ominous, they however departed in quick succession. Australia soon lost skipper Steve Smith for just 3 as a familiar collapse seemed imminent. But Travis Head (29) and Peter Handscomb (43) stabilised the innings and the latter played some big shots towards the end to power the Aussies to their highest total of the series.