India lose again as Smith’s ton helps Aus clinch series 2-0

Besides Smith’s 104-run knock, opener David Warner smashed 83 off 77 while skipper Aaron Finch contributed 60 in a first-wicket stand of 142 in under 23 overs as the hosts posted 389/4

Australian players celebrate an Indian wicket during the second ODI in Sydney. Photo: Twitter/Cricket Australia

Captain Virat Kohli’s 89 went in vain as Australia defeated India by 51 runs in the second ODI to win the series 2-0 with a game to spare at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) on Sunday (November 29).

Once again, Steve Smith was the star batsman for the hosts as he hit another century (104 off 66). He had hit a 62-ball ton in the opening game at the same venue and he repeated the feat after Aaron Finch won the toss and chose to bat. For Smith, it was his fifth century against India in the 50-over format.

Australia bettered their first ODI total as they posted 389/4 in 50 overs. In reply, India were kept to 338/9. In the previous game, Australia had scored 374 and the visitors had lost by 66 runs.

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A target of 390 proved to be too much for India. Kohli (89) and KL Rahul (76) were their main contributors in what turned out to be another forgettable outing for the beleaguered visitors.

India started the big chase in earnest with the in-from Shikhar Dhawan (30) and Mayank Agarwal (28) dealing in boundaries from the onset.

If Agarwal found the fence twice in the first over, Dhawan struck Mitchell Starc for three successive fours to get the Indian innings going.

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A magnificent cover drive by Agarwal took the visitors past 50 in 6.1 overs. However, in trying to go for one too many, Dhawan perished.

Virat Kohli top-scored for India with 89. Photo: Twitter/BCCI

In came Kohli and as he has mostly done through his illustrious career, the Indian captain played some delightful shots on the way to his 87-ball innings to keep the visitors in with a chance.

During his stay in the middle, Kohli pulled, drove, flicked and cut with plenty of success as India tried to keep the required rate within 9-10 runs per over.

But pacer Josh Hazlewood provided Australia their biggest breakthrough when he had Kohli caught brilliantly by a diving Moises Henriques at midwicket.

That brought Hardik Pandya to the middle and the all-rounder, in the company of KL Rahul, played some big shots. But they were never going to be enough.

Rahul departed after striking five sixes and four boundaries in his 66-ball knock. India completely lost the plot after that.

Australia fast bowler Pat Cummins picked up 3/67 in his 10 overs.

Besides Smith’s 104-run knock, swashbuckling opener David Warner smashed 83 off 77 while skipper Aaron Finch contributed 60 in a first-wicket stand of 142 in under 23 overs.

The duo of Marnus Labuschagne and Glenn Maxwell continued the onslaught to propel Australia to a humongous score in what was a must-win game for the visitors. Labuschagne made 70 and the big-hitting Maxwell blazed away to 63 off 29 balls with the help of four sixes and as many fours.

Earlier, during his stay in the middle, Smith hit 14 boundaries and two sixes while Warner found the fence seven times and cleared it thrice before missing out on what would have been a well-deserved ton, thanks to a fine direct throw from the deep by Shreyas Iyer.

In his trademark unconventional manner, Smith played shots all round the wicket to torment the Indian bowlers.

Steve Smith (right) hit back-to-back hundreds. Photo: Twitter/Cricket Australia

To dislodge Smith, India needed Pandya to bowl for the first time since returning from a back surgery more than a year ago, and he did the trick in his third over, luring the imperious Australian to slash one straight to Mohammed Shami.

Before that, Warner got the Australian innings underway with a boundary through the point region off Shami in the first over.

The manner in which he leaned back to place the short and wide fourth delivery on the off side showed Warner’s intent.

Coming off an expensive outing in the series-opener, lead pacer Jasprit Bumrah started with a maiden and generated good pace off a wicket with a decent grass cover. But he soon lost his rhythm as the Australians found theirs after a slow start.

Finch found his first boundary of the day when he comfortably flicked Bumrah over the backward square leg region, even as the bowler clocked 146-147 on the speed gun.

The young Navdeep Saini was brought on early and Warner welcomed him with a six over the square leg boundary, whacking his short first delivery with aplomb.

Hardik Pandya bowled for the first time since September 2019 and took one wicket. Photo: Twitter/BCCI

Taking full advantage of Saini’s inexperience in these conditions, Warner collected two boundaries off him before giving the same treatment to Shami in the innings” eighth over, as Australia reached 50 in another solid start for the home team.

Australia maintained the momentum through the innings as the Indian bowlers toiled on a hot, sunny day.

The third and final ODI is in Canberra on Wednesday (December 2). This will be followed by three T20Is and four Tests.

(With inputs from PTI)

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