Zampa and Co stifle India to take series 2-1

Chennai (Agencies): Australia snatched the No. 1 ODI ranking and snapped India’s four-year unbeaten series streak at home with a thrilling win in the defence of 269 in Chennai. Australia went all in from the moment they won the toss and gambled against the dew by choosing to bat on a dry and soft surface. They attacked the new ball in the powerplay, but kept attacking, which resulted in quite a few starts but no fifty.

The bowlers then hung in despite a quick start from India, their two spinners Adam Zampa and Ashton Agar took six wickets between them to drag India back from 65 for 0 and 146 for 2. The defence was all the more remarkable because Cameron Green’s illness left Australia with Marcus Stoinis as the fifth bowler. Stoinis was a revelation, though, bowling 9.1 overs for just 43 runs and a wicket.

Both the innings progressed similarly: a quick start to maximise the powerplay and the new ball followed by the pitch playing tricks, and some aggressive options taken by batters resulting in soft-looking dismissals. The most uncharacteristic perhaps was Virat Kohli holing out to long-off in Ashton Agar’s last over after scoring the only half-century of the match, with Hardik Pandya scoring quickly at the other end, and the requirement under a run a ball.

Kohli’s dismissal, followed by a third straight golden duck for Suryakumar Yadav, left India needing 85 off 88 with four wickets in hand. It seemed Pandya, who had earlier dragged Australia back from a rapid start with figures of 8-0-44-3, would see India through, but he, too, chose the big shot over taking the game deep.

His slog off Zampa with 52 required off 39 brought in the tail. Needing to do all the scoring himself, even Ravindra Jadeja slogged at a Zampa wrong’un, leaving the tail an improbable 45 to get off 29. These risks were uncharacteristic largely of India, in that they came from both ends and at times when India had got the asking rate under control.