Aussies Rue Slow Finish As India Win Prize
Australia's middle and lower order could face scrutiny after a lack of late hitting came back to bite the Aussies in their series-deciding seven-wicket loss to India.
Steve Smith put on an ODI masterclass with 131 on Sunday night, reaching triple figures in this format for the first time since he achieved the feat against Pakistan three years ago to the day.
But no other Australian burst into action with him at the death as they settled for 9-286.
The total did not put pressure on India on a batting haven, and they were able to take limited risks as Rohit Sharma scored a century to wrap up the win with 15 balls to spare.
Victory meant India took the series 2-1.
Only Ashton Agar's 1-38 and Adam Zampa's 1-44 slowed the hosts, while Pat Cummins slumped to his worst economy rate since his ODI debut with 0-64 from seven overs.
Mitchell Starc went at 7.3 an over, while Josh Hazlewood was more impressive, bowling the dangerous Virat Kohli for 89 and finishing with 1-55 in his first ODI in 14 months.
But still the Aussies were left to rue a missed opportunity with the bat.
After Marnus Labuschagne' 54 at No.4 in a 127-run stand with Smith gave Australia a base, Smith's future partners could not go on with it.
Smith added 36 from 21 balls himself in the final 10 overs, while others contributed a combined 22 off 39 in the same period.
Starc was promoted to No.5 to pinch hit but got a third-ball duck, Ashton Turner hit four off 10 and Agar 11no off 13.
"We were probably a few short," captain Aaron Finch admitted, https://metajack.org/synth-wiki/index.php?title=How_India_Claimed_The_ODI_Series_Victory praising India's bowlers.
"Just as we started to build a platform we lost a wicket and then rebuild again and lose one.
"It's unfortunate but the guys are still leaning.
That middle order in particular haven't played a hue amount of one-day cricket.
"That's an area where we just missed a couple of tricks."
The failure with the bat comes after Glenn Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis were dropped following a poor World Cup, but are dominating the Big Bash.
D'Arcy Short and Peter Handscomb were also on the India tour but didn't play.
Kohli admitted on Sunday he was surprised Maxwell was not part of Australia's squad, given his 113 off 55 balls in a Twenty20 in India last year.
Maxwell will be hoping to place pressure on selectors when squads are named on February 8 for series against South Africa and England.
"That'll be a discussion over the next couple of weeks (whether to stick with the middle order)," Finch said.
"We've got a few weeks and a few rounds of Big Bash.
"You discuss all combinations but the guys have played some really good cricket as well."
Smith meanwhile looked at home back at No.3 with an average of 114.5 for the series, despite having to brush off a mix up with a furious Finch when the opener was run out for 19.
The century was Smith's first in ODI cricket in three years, while Alex Carey also looked good at No.6 with 35 from 36.
Sharma went on to hit six sixes on his way to 119, his eighth century against Australia, in India's reply.
His 137-run second-wicket partnership with Kohli ended any Australian hopes.