3rd ODI: Australia 133/4 against India after 26 overs
Canberra: Australia have lost their 4th wicket in the final One Day International against India with 133 runs on the board after 26 overs at the Manuka Oval on Wednesday.
Marnus Labuschagne (7 from 13), who opened the innings in the absence of injured David Warner was sent back to the pavilion by debutant T. Natarajan in the 6th over. Shardul Thakur claimed the important wickets of Steve Smith (7 from 15) and Moises Henriques (22 from 31). Ravindra Jadeja claimed the wicket of Aaron Finch (75 from 82) who looked well set to score another century.
The hosts need 170 runs from 24 overs to win the match and register a whitewash victory in the series.
Earlier, brilliant half centuries from Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja and skipper Virat Kohli had helped India set a competitive 303-run target for Australia.
Winning the toss for the first time in the series which India have already lost, Kohli opted to bat as the visitors made as many as four changes in their line-up -- Shubman Gill, Shardul Thakur, Kuldeep Yadav and debutant T Natarajan replacing Mayank Agarwal, Navdeep Saini, Yuzvendra Chahal and Navdeep Saini.
India got off to a decent start as Shikhar Dhawan and Gill added 26 runs before the left-handed opener became the first scalp of pacer Sean Abbott. Kohli, who came into bat at number three, then stitched a 56-run partnership with Gill and brought the Indian innings back on track.
However, just when India looked all set for a big total, the two Australia spinners -- Adam Zampa (1/45) and Ashton Agar (2/44) -- came into action and took three wickets (Gill 33, Shreyas Iyer 19 and KL Rahul 5) between themselves to bring Australia on top with India reeling at 123/4 in the 26th over.
Hardik Pandya then joined forces with Kohli who scored his 60th ODI fifty and in the process also became the fastest batsman to score 12,000 ODI runs. However, Josh Hazlewood, who has been his nemesis in the last three ODIs against Australia, once again got the big wicket of the talismanic Indian batsman who went back to the pavilion after scoring 63 runs off 78 balls.
Jadeja and Pandya then steadily helped India recover and took their time to get used to the pace of the wicket. Once they got settled, the duo went all guns blazing in the death overs and collected boundaries at will to power India to 302 in their allotted 50 overs.
The duo shared an unbeaten 150 run partnership off just 108 balls as Pandya and Jadeja remained not out at 92 (76 balls; seven 4s, one 6) and 66 (50 balls; five 4s and three 6s respectively.
(With inputs from IANS)