Opener David Warner hit a sparkling century in his 100th one-day international to help Australia down India by 21 runs and pull off a consolation win on Thursday (28).
Warner’s blazing 124 and his 231-run opening stand with Aaron Finch, who made 94, guided the visitors to 334-5 in the fourth game of the five-match series in Bangalore.
The hosts, who lead the series 3-1, faltered in their chase to end on 313-8 despite three half-centuries including a gritty 67 off 69 balls from Kedar Jadhav.
Fast bowlers Kane Richardson and Nathan Coulter-Nile shared five wickets between them to snap India’s winning streak of nine ODI games.
“I thought we were a little bit too wide with the new ball, could have been straighter, but the bowlers pulled it back nicely towards the back end,” said skipper Steve Smith.
“Nice to sit up there and watch Warner do his thing. His ODI form in the last two years has been unbelievable. He continues to grow and get better as a player which is what we’re after,” Smith said of his star opener.
Virat Kohli’s India began its reply on a positive note as openers Rohit Sharma, who hit 65, and Ajinkya Rahane, who made 53, put together a 106-run stand.
Rahane registered a hat-trick of half-centuries and in the next over Sharma hit two big sixes off leg-spinner Adam Zampa to bring up his fifty in style.
Richardson broke the century stand after sending Rahane trudging back to the pavilion.
Sharma tried to keep the momentum going with Kohli for company but a big mix-up between the two batsmen got him run out.
It was Smith’s spectacular stop at backward point that got Sharma stranded with Kohli at the striker’s end. Kohli was soon bowled by Coulter-Nile for 21.
Hardik Pandya, who scored 41, put on a determined 78-run partnership with Jadhav to keep the chase afloat but it became difficult to keep pace with the mounting run-rate.
Jadhav, smashing 7 fours and a six, also got going with Manish Pandey, who scored 33, to put on 61 runs for the fifth wicket, but his wicket took the wheels off the chase.
Earlier electing to bat, the left-right batting pair of Warner and Finch pulverised the Indian bowlers attack in the first 35 overs.
Warner, who received the man of the match award, hit 12 fours and four sixes. It was his 14th ODI century since making his debut at Hobart in 2009.
The batsman got to his milestone with a boundary off part-time spinner Jadhav, jumping for joy as the runs were marked up. He later fell to Jadhav’s off-spin and walked off to a standing ovation.
Finch, who missed out on his second successive century, soon followed his partner after getting caught at mid-on off paceman Umesh Yadav.
“Warner and Finch were spectacular. Really paced the innings nicely. Set us up to get 330. 300 wouldn’t have been enough. Nice to defend and get a win,” said Smith.
Yadav, who returned figures of 4-71, got the prized scalp of Smith to bag his 100th ODI wicket. The visitors lost three wickets in just 15 deliveries.
But Travis Head and Peter Handscomb forged a 63-run fourth-wicket partnership to halt the Indian fightback with some intelligent batting.
Handscomb made a 30-ball 43, laced with three fours and a six, before being bowled by Yadav. Head made an effective 29.
“Australia were really good today. With the bat, their intent was really good. They pulled things back nicely in the field. We didn’t play so bad, but they were better on the day,” said Kohli.
The final match is scheduled for Sunday in Nagpur before the action shifts to the three-match twenty20 series starting October 7.