MELBOURNE, Jan 17: India�s bowlers today produced yet another sloppy performance to allow Australia clinch the five match ODI series by taking an unassailable 3-0 lead as they cruised to a three-wicket victory in the third match despite a heroic century by Virat Kohli.
Batting first, India scored a decent 295 for six in 50 overs with Virat Kohli scoring a run-a-ball 117 on route to his 24th ODI century. In reply, Australia never looked in trouble as they knocked off the required runs with seven balls still remaining.
Glenn Maxwell dampened India�s hopes of an elusive win with a superlative 96 off 83 balls that had eight fours and three sixes as the bowlers once again undid the valiant effort from the batting unit. The fielding was also not upto the mark at times.
Umesh Yadav (2/68 in 9.5 overs), Barinder Sran (0/63 in 8 overs) and Ishant Sharma (2/53 in 10 overs) found it difficult to restrict the batsman from scoring. Aaron Finch (21 runs, 23 balls, 3 fours) and Shaun Marsh (62 runs, 76 balls, 6 fours) started off at almost six runs per over and the rate didn�t come down even with early bowling changes.
Debutant Gurkeerat Singh Mann dropped Finch in the 6th over, with the batsman on 20. But it had yielded a wicket, with Finch being caught behind in the 8th over off Ishant. Steve Smith (41 runs, 45 balls, 5 fours) then came to the crease and started off without feeling any pressure.
He added 64 runs with Marsh, who scored a second consecutive half-century playing in place of David Warner, and the 100-mark coming up breezily in the 16th over. Australia were keeping up the run-rate, and Smith was into his forties in the blink of an eye.
Against the run of play then, in the 19th over, Ravindra Jadeja (2-49) got one to spin away from him and he edged it to slip with Ajinkya Rahane happily accepting the catch. His dismissal brought India back into the game with George Bailey (23) stumped in the 27th over.
Dhoni showed another quick thinking and brilliant glove-work moment when he ran out Mitchell Marsh (17) off an Umesh Yadav throw in the 36th over. In between, Shaun Marsh was out caught pulling off Ishant in the 30th over. And when Matthew Wade (6) got out against the same bowler in the 39th over, Australia were reduced to 215/6.
But Maxwell then played a superb hand, with an uncharacteristic watchful innings to score his 13th ODI fifty. In doing so, he put on 80 runs off just 63 balls for the 7th wicket with James Faulkner (21) and over by over, the hosts edged home to a win.
Maxwell had reached his half-century in the 40th over, run-a-ball and there was an element of doubt about a faint edge on the snickometer in that same over.
But then he took 15 runs off the 43rd over by Yadav changing the momentum of the game. Thereafter, the equation came down to a very manageable run-a-ball and the duo took Australia home � and to the series win � without much fuss.
Earlier, Kohli�s hundred guided India to 295/6 in 50 overs. He put on 119 runs with Shikhar Dhawan (68 runs, 91 balls, 9 fours) and another 109 runs with Ajinkya Rahane (50 runs, 55 balls, 4 fours, 1 six), but the Men in Blue had to settle for a below-par score.
The visitors sprung a couple of surprises in the afternoon when they handed debuts to both Gurkeerat Mann and Rishi Dhawan.
R Ashwin and Manish Pandey were excluded from the playing eleven as skipper MS Dhoni went in with six bowlers. Australia won the toss and elected to field, bringing back Mitchell Marsh to the line-up and leaving out Joel Paris.
Rohit Sharma (6) and Shikhar Dhawan took first strike then, but the former couldn�t replicate his centuries from the first two matches and was out caught behind off Kane Richardson (1-48) in the fifth over.
Kohli then walked to the crease, and looked fluent from the very beginning. It was important in the context of the innings as Dhawan was scratching around for his runs. While they didn�t lose any more wickets, India could only reach 62/1 in the first 15 overs. � PTI
India: Rohit Sharma c Wade b Richardson 6, Shikhar Dhawan b Hastings 68, Virat Kohli c Bailey b Hastings 117, Ajinkya Rahane c Maxwell b Hastings 50, MS Dhoni c Maxwell b Hastings 23, Gurkeerat Singh b Faulkner 8, Ravindra Jadeja not out 6, Rishi Dhawan not out 3. Extras: (lb 5, w 9) 14. Total: (6 wickets; 50 overs) 295. Fall of wickets: 1-15, 2-134, 3-243, 4-265, 5-274, 6-288. Bowling: Kane Richardson 10-0-48-1, John Hastings 10-0-58-4, James Faulkner 10-0-63-1, Scott Boland 9-0-63-0, Glenn Maxwell 9-0-46-0, Mitchell Marsh 2-0-12-0.
Australia: Shaun Marsh c Dhoni b I Sharma 62, Aaron Finch c Dhoni b Yadav 21, Steven Smith c Rahane b Jadeja 41, George Bailey st Dhoni b Jadeja 23, Glenn Maxwell c Dhawan b Yadav 96, Mitchell Marsh run out 17, Matthew Wade c S Dhawan b I Sharma 6, James Faulkner not out 21, John Hastings not out 0. Extras: (LB-3, W-5, NB-1) 9. Total: (For 7 wkts; 48.5 overs) 296. Fall of wickets: 1-48, 2-112, 3-150, 4-167, 5-204, 6-215, 7-295. Bowling: Umesh Yadav 9.5-0-68-2, Barinder Sran 8-0-63-0, Ishant Sharma 10-0-53-2, Rishi Dhawan 6-0-33-0, Gurkeerat Singh 5-0-27-0, Ravindra Jadeja 10-0-49-2.