India's captain Virat Kohli plays a shot during the third and last one day international (ODI) cricket match of a three-match series between India and Australia at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore on January 19, 2020. (Photo by Manjunath KIRAN / AFP) / ----IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE----- / GETTYOUT
India's captain Virat Kohli plays a shot during the third and last one day international (ODI) cricket match of a three-match series between India and Australia at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore on January 19, 2020. (Photo by Manjunath KIRAN / AFP) / ----IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE----- / GETTYOUT

Smith's ton no match for King Kohli's India

Glenn Maxwell must have sat at home wondering what he could've done.

Australia lost its series-decider against India on the back of another batting performance that shone the spotlight on its refreshed middle and lower orders.

The one-sided series opener played out in reverse as Rohit Sharma (119 off 128) and Virat Kohli (89 off 91) played the roles of Mumbai masters David Warner and Aaron Finch.

 

 

Steve Smith (131) and Marnus Labuschagne (54) provided the spine of Australia's 9-286, but below them it was rather brittle.

India's 11 wides in the first 23 balls gifted Finch and Warner a fast start whilst barely playing a shot.

Then, Finch was gone without playing a shot.  The skipper blew up at former captain Smith after a schoolyard run-out ended the opener's innings on 19 (26).

Aaron Finch was dismissed following a calamitous mix up with Steve Smith.
Aaron Finch was dismissed following a calamitous mix up with Steve Smith.

Smith nudged the ball to backward point, and into Ravi Jadeja's sharp left hand, as Finch overcommitted and charged off for a single.

Both batsmen ended up at the striker's end and, while Finch tried to sprint back, he was easily run out by Mohammad Shami.

Smith gestured "no" by holding his bat out and told Finch: "I called no!" as the captain stormed off while cursing and shaking his head.

Smith made amends for any confusion with his first ODI century in three years.

But the tourists needed to keep on accelerating and yet they started to stall, batting on a pitch as flat as a pancake.

Mitchell Starc's promotion to No.5 was laced with desperation. It might've been a free throw at the stumps, but it was also Australia's first attempt at unleashing a pinch-hitter since Mitchell Johnson nine years ago.

Steve Smith scored his first ODI century in three years, but in a losing cause.
Steve Smith scored his first ODI century in three years, but in a losing cause.

For the second game in a row, Smith and Labuschagne built a platform that plenty of others slipped off.

Boy, imagine Maxwell launching at the death … rather than Ashton Turner and Ashton Agar. Maxi's T20 ton at the same ground - he thumped 113 not-out off 55 balls - ignited Australia's charge to last year's World Cup.

It made sense that Maxwell was left at home after a tournament where he didn't take a wicket or post a half-century. But which batsman would Kohli's attack have feared more on Sunday night?

The spotlight now goes on the selectors and what changes they make for February's ODI tour of South Africa.

They ripped seven players out of the World Cup squad. How many changes will be made after a competitive 2-1 series loss in India?

Sean Abbott is in line for selection, given he was originally selected only to be replaced by D'Arcy Short when he went down with a side strain.

That suggests Maxwell is a fair way back in the queue, also behind fellow unused batsman Peter Handscomb.

There was a hint of desperation with the ball, too. Finch gave himself and Marnus Labuschagne an over each, and Sharma - the king of Bangalore - swiped a six off each part-timer.

Sharma was simply unstoppable. The world-class opener, who was under an injury cloud pre-game, cracked his 

Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli ruthlessly put Australia's bowlers to the sword.
Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli ruthlessly put Australia's bowlers to the sword.

eight ODI ton against Australia.

Sharma now averages 61.3 against the Aussies, a figure that is only bettered by his 64 from two games against Ireland.

Only Sachin Tednulkar and Virender Sehwag have crunched more runs at Bengalaru, too, while Sharma (217 innings) sped to 9000 runs faster than every batsman, barring Kohli (194) and AB de Villiers (205).

Kohli's crisp, punching drive to the rope off Cummins, which ticked India over 200, looked the shot of the series.

Starc gave Sharma too much width early while Cummins - who bowled tight and true in the first two games - missed the mark.

But after five Test matches, six T20s and, in India, three ODIs in six days it was understandable that the three-format superstars lacked their usual edge.

Pat Cummins suffered a rare off day in Australian colours.
Pat Cummins suffered a rare off day in Australian colours.

You wouldn't think Kolkata Knight Riders' coach Brendon McCullum would have lost too much sleep after purchasing Pat for $3.17 million.

Josh Hazlewood's first white-ball spell for Australia since 2018 reaped 0-10 from five overs after he replaced Kane Richardson.

The Big Three - Starc, Cummins and Hazlewood - joined forces for the first time in a long time, but never threatened with two of the trio off their games.

Consistent right-armer Hazlewood showed that he is hard to hit no matter what colour the ball, and perhaps he should've featured in game two.



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