Rohit ton floors Australia, India win series 4-1

Last Updated: Sun, Oct 01, 2017 21:32 hrs
Centurion Rohit, bowlers help India regain ICC top spot

Nagpur: Rohit Sharma struck a century as India beat Australia by seven wickets in the fifth and final One-Day International (ODI) at the Vidarbha Cricket Association Ground here on Sunday to end the five-match series on a winning note.

India thus won the series 4-1. The victory also helped India regain the top spot in the ODI rankings, pushing South Africa to the second spot. Australia remain third.

Chasing a modest target of 243 runs, India crossed the line with 43 balls still to go.

Sharma and fellow opener Ajinkya Rahane put on a 124-run partnership in 22.3 overs which virtually sealed the match in India's favour.

Sharma plundered 125 runs off 109 balls with his innings featuring 11 impressive boundaries and five hits over the fence. This was his 14th century in the 50-over format.

Sharma became the fastest Indian to reach the 2,000-run milestone in ODI cricket at home. He surpassed former India captain Sourav Ganguly and present incumbent Virat Kohli to the top spot.

The right-hander from Mumbai achieved the feat in 42 innings while Ganguly took 45 and Kohli needed 46.

Rahane, who has also been in good form in this series, played a steady knock of 61 runs off 74 balls which included seven boundaries.

Fast bowler Nathan Coulter-Nile finally broke the partnership when he trapped Rahane leg-before.

Kohli then joined Sharma in the middle and the duo proceeded to take the hosts slowly but surely towards victory, adding 99 runs between them off 16.4 overs.

Sharma brought up his century in style, smashing Coulter-Nile for a six over mid-wicket.

He continued to torment the Australian bowlers before falling to leg-spinner Adam Zampa while trying to go over the top.

Kohli, who was cruising along with 39 runs off 55 deliveries, fell just three balls later when a mistimed drive into the hands of Marcus Stoinis at long off, handed Zampa his second wicket of the match.

Kedar Jadhav and Manish Pandey then took India past the post, the latter hitting Australian pacer James Faulkner for two consecutive boundaries to bring up the win in style.

Earlier, India restricted Australia to 242 runs for nine wickets in 50 overs.

After Steve Smith won the toss and elected to bat, openers David Warner (53) and Aaron Finch (32) laid a solid foundation of 66 runs but the following top-order batsmen failed to sustain the momentum.

However, Travis Head (42) and Marcus Stoinis (46) put up an 87-run fifth-wicket stand to haul Australia to a respectable total though it may not be enough to stop India from winning the series 4-1.

For India, left-arm spinner Axar Patel was impressive, claiming three wickets for 38 runs in 10 overs.

Warner and Finch, who put up a partnership of 231 runs in the fourth match, started strongly, putting Indian opening bowlers under pressure. Both of them played calculated knocks as the partnership flourished.

Medium pacer Hardik Panya broke the dangerous-looking partnership as Finch was caught by Jasprit Bumrah at mid-off on the third ball of the 12th over, with Australia at 66/1.

Captain Steve Smith (16) joined Warner in the middle as the latter completed his 17th fifty in ODI cricket.

But the partnership lasted only for 34 runs after Smith, attempting a sweep shot, missed a quick delivery from part-time off-spinner Kedar Jadhav and the bowler appealed successfully for a LBW.

Australia's slide continued and left-arm spinner Axar Patel delivered a big blow by removing Warner, who offered a straight catch to Manish Pandey at long on, as the visitors lost their third wicket for 112 runs in 22.2 overs.

Two overs later, the Gujarat spinner bagged his second wicket in the form of Peter Handscomb (13). Handscomb top-edged while going for a sweep shot and slip fielder Ajinkya Rahane ran behind to catch it.

Travis Head (42) and Marcus Stoinis (46) then hauled Australia out of the rot with an 87-run fifth-wicket stand. Both of them took time to settle down and it meant that the spinners ran through their overs with less pressure.

But Head and Stoinis mixed ones and twos with occasional boundaries to put the visitors back on track. They lifted Australian hopes of finishing the innings with a decent total.

But Patel claimed his third victim to break the stand when Head was bowled as he missed the line and length of the ball trying to sweep it in the sixth delivery of the 43rd over.

Two overs later, Stoinis perished too, with Bumrah getting an LBW decision. These two wickets allowed India to contain Australia even in the death overs.

Matthew Wade (20) and James Faulkner (12) then did their best to take Australia to 242/9.

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