Australia beat India to signal World Cup ambitions
MELBOURNE: Australia beat world champions India by four wickets in a thrilling One Day International at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Sunday, overcoming a late mini-collapse to win with just six balls remaining.
India’s world record holder Rohit Sharma (138) smashed his sixth ODI International century to contribute more than half of his team’s total but Mitchell Starc’s career-best 6-43 restricted the visitors to 267-8.
When the hosts replied, swashbuckling opener Aaron Finch proved he is not just a reckless slogger, compiling a composed 96 as Australia overwhelmed the target with one over to spare.
Finch hit five fours and two sixes in his 127-ball knock but missed out on his seventh ODI century as Australia chalked up their second win in the tri-series, which also involves England.
Australia’s chase got off to a strong start with the openers putting on 51 runs before the dangerous David Warner (24) spooned a simple catch to Suresh Raina at extra cover.
Shane Watson (41) also began aggressively but looked desperate when boundaries stopped flowing and lost his off-stump to left-arm spinner Akshar Patel going for a slog-sweep.
Steve Smith (47), who punished India in the preceding four-test series, continued to trouble them, once again exposing the visitors’ bowling limitations with his century stand with Finch.
From 216-2, Australia lost four quick wickets to inject fresh excitement in the contest but eventually prevailed when James Faulkner hit the winning boundary off Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
Earlier, Sharma did not threaten the record 264 he blasted against Sri Lanka last year but the Indian opener gave Australian bowlers an insight into his intentions ahead of next month’s World Cup with an almost a run-a-ball knock.
Opting to bat first, India slumped to 59-3 inside the first 13 overs before Sharma and Raina (51) set about rebuilding the innings adding 126 for the fourth wicket.
Sharma’s 138 came off 139 deliveries and was highlighted by nine boundaries and four sixes at the MCG, which will host the World Cup final.
The elegant right-hander departed in the penultimate over when he mistimed a full toss from Starc and holed out to Glenn Maxwell at midwicket.
Starc, who claimed four wickets in Friday’s tournament opener against England, missed out on a hat-trick but walked away with back-to-back man-of-the-match award.
India meet England in the third match of the series on Tuesday. (Reuters)