Rajkot, Sept 27 (PTI) Mitchell Marsh’s stroke-filled 96 and Marnus Labuschagne’s polished 72 took Australia to a commendable 352 for 7 against India in the third and final ODI here on Wednesday.
While Marsh missed reaching triple figures by a whisker, Australia’s batters came good collectively in what will be their last official ODI before the start of the World Cup.
David Warner had himself to blame for his dismissal after a fiery 56 off 34 balls (6x4s, 4x6s), but he set the tone for Australia early on.
Steve Smith also put brakes on his poor run of scores to make a rapid 74 and towards the end, Labuschagne upped the ante with his 58-ball knock to help Australia post their challenging score. Labuschagne also became Australia’s top run-getter in the ongoing calendar year.
On a hot and humid day, drinks were brought out more often than not between change of over while batters dropped down to their haunches, turning out to be quite a laborious effort for the Australian batters after their captain chose to bat.
Marsh took the attack to Jasprit Bumrah (3/81 in 10 overs), hitting two fours and a six and forcing India to take off the solitary slip since there was no early movement on offer.
Warner too shrugged off a slow start to hit Mohammed Siraj for two imperious sixes as Australia seized early momentum.
The assault continued as Prasidh Krishna was hit for three fours and a six in his opening over with Warner taking the lead. The Australian opener completed his ninth fifty against India and 31st overall with a six over fine leg off Siraj.
However, Warner’s charge ended while trying to scoop Prasidh, walking across the wickets but only to edge it behind.
In search of a big score, Smith opted for consolidation with Marsh, who had long shifted gears to drop the anchor.
Bumrah was brought back for the 23rd over but Marsh clobbered him for three fours and two sixes to collect 19 runs — he gave that many in two separate overs — which finally forced India to bring Kuldeep Yadav (2/48) into the attack.
While India found it difficult to penetrate owing to a placid surface, the Australian pair of Marsh and Smith amassed 137 from 119 for the second wicket.
However, the Australian pair did struggle with the heat and humidity late in the afternoon and increasingly looked for boundaries while sacrificing the doubles.
For the second time this year and against the same opponent, Marsh came close to bringing up only his second ODI century but missed it by four runs.
All the hard work of getting close to the mark while braving the conditions went in vain when Marsh hit straight to Krishna at cover off Kuldeep.
Smith perished soon after as Siraj pinned him in front of the wickets for 74 off 61 balls, including eight fours and a six.
Alex Carey (11) had a short stay as he misjudged a slower ball from Bumrah to chip it straight to Virat Kohli at cover in the 37th over.
Bumrah, mixing his deliveries well in this spell, cleaned up Glenn Maxwell (5) for his second wicket of the game but one that also dented Australia’s hopes of acceleration in the remaining overs.
Australia’s slide continued as Kuldeep had Cameron Green (9) caught at long on, but Labuschagne and Pat Cummins put on 46 to take them to their overall fourth highest ODI total against India.