India have ended Australia’s hopes of back-to-back ODI series wins in the country with a seven-wicket victory in Bangalore despite a batting masterclass from Steve Smith.
Smith scored 131 in Australia’s 9-286 on Sunday night, before a Rohit Sharma century saw India chase down the target with 15 balls to spare and take the three-match series 2-1. The tourists were barely in the contest in the second innings as Ashton Agar took 1-38 off 10 overs and Adam Zampa 1-44 but the quicks all went for big runs.
Pat Cummins had one of the worst days of his ODI career with 0-64 from seven overs, while Mitchell Starc also went at 7.3 an over. Josh Hazlewood was more impressive with 1-55 in his first ODI in 14 months but after Agar dismissed KL Rahul for 19, Sharma and Virat Kohli put on a show.
Sharma notched up his eighth one-day century against Australia to finish on 119 from 128 balls, while Kohli hit 89 before being bowled by Hazlewood.
Australia were most left to rue a poor end to their own batting innings, where no one could go with Smith. The former captain hit 36 from 21 balls in the final 10 overs, while his teammates contributed just 22 from 39 balls in the same period. Ashton Turner scored only four but chewed up 10 balls, while Agar went at less than a run a ball for his 11 not out.
Australia’s desire to up the ante was exemplified when Mitchell Starc was moved up to No 5 and ahead of Alex Carey, Turner and Agar as a pinch hitter in the 32nd over. The experiment failed as he scored a third-ball duck, but it highlighted his team’s concerns in the area after dropping Glenn Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis.
Meanwhile, Smith also had to brush aside a mix up with Aaron Finch when the Australia captain was run out for 19 and yelled in Smith’s direction on the way off the field. But while there were issues at the other end, Smith never lost his composure to post his first ODI century in three years.
He played gloriously all around the ground and became the fourth-fastest Australian to 4000 ODI runs along the way before he hold out off Mohammad Shami in the 48th over. Smith combined in a 127-run stand with Marnus Labuschagne, who again looked busy for his 54 from 64, while Alex Carey hit 35 from 36.
But the target never looked like being enough on a batter-friendly wicket, as India cruised home with their regular opener, Shikhar Dhawan, nursing an injured shoulder. It marks Australia’s first loss in a bilateral series since last January, and ended their chances of becoming the first team in a decade to win back-to-back ODI series in India.