Pandya and Jadeja sizzle with bat and India wins at Canberra

By Kersi Meher-Homji

Winning the toss for the first time in the three match series, India defeated Australia by 13 runs in Canberra. This was a consolation win for King Kohli’s visiting Indians as Australia had won the previous two matches in Sydney after winning the toss. Thus India won the match but lost the series 1-2.

India started poorly, losing 5 for 152 in the first 32 overs. The fifth wicket to fall was that of Virat Kohli who scored a stylish 63 and there was a gloom among the Indian supporters. But it was lifted when Ravindra Jadeja joined Hardik Pandya.

They started slowly but accelerated in the last eight overs. They put on 150 runs for the unbroken sixth wicket as Pandya remained not out with 92 and Jadeja with 66. India scored 5 for 302, her third successive total of 300 plus in this series.

Australia opened with their consistent skipper Aaron Finch stroking 75. But the Indian attack sent back the batsmen at the other end. For once Steve Smith failed scoring only seven runs. He had hit centuries in the previous two ODIs

In his international debut, India’s fast bowler Thangarasu Natrajan struck early, dismissing Marnus Labuschagne. Fellow quickies Jasprit Bumrah and Shardul Thakur as also spinners Kuldip Yadav and Jadeja kept the pressure on.

The only time Australia looked like winning was when the flamboyant Glenn Maxwell smashed three fours and four sixes in his hurricane innings of 59. But once he was bowled by Bumrah the last four wickets tumbled for 21 runs and India won by 13 runs.

Pandya was adjudged Man of the Match and Smith the Man of the Series.

Now to the Press Conference.

A smiling Hardik Pandya: “It’s fantastic. Been working really hard to make sure I play for my country, so I’m really happy to be playing this series. Natarajan is quite a story, quite an inspiration with the background he’s come from. You need to be on your toes to compete against Australia. I feel that you always have that extra edge in you when you play against Australia, you want to face up to that challenge.”

Player of the Series Steven Smith: “The pitch did a bit more with the new ball. Both quicks bowled really well up front from both teams, so probably a little bit different to the SCG. Hopefully a day off [tomorrow] and then come over here just before the [first T20I], that would be ideal.”

A relieved Virat Kohli, “It’s particularly pleasing that we were under the pump for the first half of our innings, and second half of Australia’s, and we fought back both times. One guy making his debut, Shubman coming back, that brought us some freshness. I think the pitch was much better in terms of helping the bowlers, so obviously the confidence levels go up. We were able to put Australia under pressure because of that fact as well. Playing international cricket for 13 to 14 years, you should be able to come back like we did. I would have liked to go on for a bit longer, but we had a great partnership between Hardik and Jadeja. It was exactly what the team needed to get that boost, even though we’ve lost the series. We played with heart and desire, and that’s what you need to do in Australia.”

Writes Santosh Gupta from Canberra having watched the exciting win by India in the third ODI:

“What a spectacular match, India starts slow, picks up at the end; Australia starts on high, then slow, high and then down to their first loss in Canberra. The crowd in Manuka Oval (almost 70 % Indian diaspora by my wild guess) and on TV through enjoyed the twists and turns of the match. Once seemingly invincible Australia lost the Canberra ODI to their arch rival in Cricket. Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja and Glen Maxwell were in their classic forms. Hardik scored his best in ODI so far.”

One thing was clearly noticeable that cricketers from both teams were friendly and showed utmost sportsmanship unlike in their previous encounters in Australia. Looks like both sides players have developed a great bond through recent Indian Premier League. Also noticeable was the support of the Indian Diaspora and Bharat Army at the Oval, largely supporting both teams, but a bit more the Indian side ”“ after all Indian team are the guests on Australian soil!”

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