As Kedar Jadhav lofted the second ball of the 50th over for a boundary at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, there was a chorus victorious roar back here in India! India defeated Australia to clinch the three-match series 2-1, and gone are the times when the tour of Australia almost always ended up with millions of shattered dreams. But this time, the Men in Blue ensured a triumphant start to the year, staying unbeaten in every series across every format on the tour! The Indian team made sure they didn't lose control at any point in the final ODI and held on to secure a comfortable 7-wicket win.
Here's how the Indians made sure the match stayed in their grasp throughout:
1. Bhuvi Sent Both Openers Back To The Hut Early Leaving The Aussies In A Tizzy
Bhuvneshwar Kumar made a breakthrough with important early wickets, and he sent skipper Aaron Finch back to the pavilion in the 9th over of the innings. Finch and Bhuvi's dead ball moment made headlines as Bhuvi delivered a ball from behind the umpire and Finch stepped back. Earlier, Bhuvi had dismissed Alex Carey when Australia had eight runs on the board, and once Finch was trapped plumb in front, there was no breathing space left for them.
2. Khwaja And Marsh Tried To Steady The Ship...
But Finch's dismissal brought Usman Khwaja and Shaun Marsh to the crease together, who tried to play safe and stitched a 73-run partnership, adding some momentum to their game. Marsh played a handy knock, scoring 39 off 54 balls, and was strongly supported in the middle by Khwaja, who chipped in with a 34-run knock.
3. ...Until Yuzi Joined The Party
Yuzvendra Chahal, who was rested for the first two ODIs, cast his spell in the final ODI by dismissing both Marsh and Khwaja in his very first over. First, he coaxed Marsh into charging down the pitch before fooling him with a leg spinner and let MSD flick the bails off. Then, he got Khwaja to top-edge, a soft leg-breaker, which ballooned back to him, resulting in a very easy catch. After that, he ran riot through the hapless Australian middle and lower order, ending the match with figures of 6/42, the combined best for any bowler in Australia.
4. Handscomb Fought Valiantly But As He Went Down, So Did Australia
The dismissal of Shaun Marsh brought Peter Handscomb to the crease, who batted sensibly and scored 58 off 63 deliveries, which helped Australia post a total that at least looked challenging. He was let down by the other middle-order batsmen, who failed to stick at the crease and lend support. The only noticeable contributions were from Maxi(Glenn Maxwell) and Jhye Richardson, but once Yuzi removed him, Australia skittled out pretty quickly, making us euphoric.
5. Rohit Walked Off Early, But India Made Sure They Held On
It broke our hearts to see Rohit Sharma, the centurion in the first ODI, lose his wicket early but it was a blessing in disguise for the Indians, as run-machine Virat Kohli walked in to bat. Virat and Shikhar made sure India didn't have to face any more jitters, at least for a while, before Marcus Stoinis caught Dhawan off guard and broke off the steady 45-run partnership along with our composure.
6. Chiku And Mahi Laid The Foundation For The Victory
Whenever Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni bat together, they sure instil some thrill among all of us. But the target was still a long way and both of India's best batsmen made sure they didn't lose their wicket. Unfortunately, Virat's wicket fell just four runs short of a half-century, but MSD sure kept the pressure off the field with his consistency along with Kedar Jadhav, finally leading India to the historic win.
7. MSD Finished The Game Off In Style, Yet Again!
After Kohli was dismissed by Jhye Richardson, Dhoni and Kedhar Jadhav made sure India had to face no more hiccups, as they came together to forge an unbeaten 121-run partnership. The required run-rate kept rising throughout the innings, but Dhoni and Jadhav made sure it didn't affect their game, and they kept their cool to take India over the line. Man of the Series MS Dhoni played a brilliant knock of 87*, his third 50+ score in this series, and was supported by an amazing innings from Jadhav, who stayed unbeaten at 61 off just 57 balls.
This series, nay, this tour of Australia has shown the whole world how formidable this young team can be, and now these young guns are gearing up to conquer New Zealand. The Blackcaps, who boast of stars like Kane Williamson, Trent Boult and Tom Latham, will be waiting to give the Indians a taste of their own medicine. Bring it on, Kiwis! And just in case you've been really busy with your life and have missed all the live action going on around you, you can visit the ESPNcricinfo website to stay up to date with all the latest cricket news and live scores!