Opener Usman Khawaja Wednesday credited teamwork for Australia’s come-from-behind 3-2 series victory over India after his sublime century helped the tourists win the fifth one-day international by 35 runs.
Khawaja’s 100 off 106 balls guided the tourists to 272 for nine and their bowlers combined to dismiss India for 237 at Delhi’s Feroz Shah Kotla ground.
Leg-spinner Adam Zampa claimed three wickets while pacemen Pat Cummins, Jhye Richardson and Marcus Stoinis took two each to set up Australia’s first win in a five-match ODI series after being 0-2 down.
But the left-handed Khawaja, who hit 10 fours and two sixes in his match-winning knock, stood out for the tourists with his second ton of the series.
His scores of 50, 38, 104 and 91 in the previous matches made him the highest run-getter in the five matches above India skipper Virat Kohli.
“It’s a lot of fun scoring hundreds and even more fun winning games. Very good to come back from 0-2 down, and never easy to beat India at home,” said an excited Khawaja.
“Our spinners, and our batters adapted really well and at the end of the day, it was a really good team performance… Even when we lost the first two games, we had a good vibe in the dressing room,” he added.
The left-right batting pair of Khawaja and Handscomb stayed firm during a 99-run stand to lay the foundation of their team’s total after skipper Aaron Finch was out on 27.
– ‘Passion, hunger and heart’ –
Khawaja got the second hundred of his ODI career with a single off Kuldeep Yadav as he waved the bat to an applauding Australian dressing room.
He lost his wicket in the next over to paceman Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who returned figures of 3-48, with a drive to cover and Kohli took a safe catch.
Ravindra Jadeja returned to get the dangerous Glenn Maxwell for one and Handscomb was caught behind off Shami as Australia slipped to 182-4.
The Aussies kept losing wickets but Richardson played a useful cameo of 29 off 21 deliveries before being run out on the final ball of the 50th over.
In reply, India were reduced to 132 for six but Kedar Jadhav, who made 44, and Kumar threatened to pull off the chase during their 91-run stand for the seventh wicket.
Cummins got Kumar caught and bowled for 46 and Richardson sent back Jadhav to silence the home crowd.
Earlier Cummins drew first blood after getting Shikhar Dhawan caught behind for 12 on a pacy away-going delivery.
But it was Stoinis who got Kohli’s prized scalp after the star batsman edged a cross-seam delivery to wicketkeeper Alex Carey. He was on 20.
Spinner Nathan Lyon and Zampa then combined to get a wicket each and the hosts slipped to 120 for four midway into the innings.
Rohit Sharma, who survived a dropped chance on 53, could not capitalise on the spill by Glenn Maxwell off Zampa as he got out to the same bowler three runs later.
“Australia played with more passion, hunger and heart and they deserved to win,” Kohli said in the post-match press conference.
“They were brave in pressure situations compared to our game, especially in the last three games, the way they handled the pressure, they really deserved to win.”
It was India’s final ODI before the World Cup in England and Wales starting May 30.
Australia head to the UAE to play Pakistan in a five-match ODI series starting March 22.