On the eve of the match, Indian spinner Yuzvendra Chahal had made it clear that India would be gunning for a 5-0 whitewash when it takes on Australia in the fourth ODI.
But in the end, it was Australia which turned things its way at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium on Thursday evening, beating India by 21 runs to regain a bit of pride in the series. This win also helped Australia snap an eight-match winless run.
Though the series is already settled in India’s favour, the host would not be too happy with the way it lost its grip in the match. Chasing a mammoth 335, India got off to a flying start as its openers — Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane — stitched an opening partnership of 106 runs. While Rahane collected 53 runs, Sharma played a gritty knock of 65 before losing his wicket to a run-out, courtesy a misunderstanding with Virat Kohli.
What looked like an easy job for India went haywire as it lost quick wickets in the middle. From a convincing 106-0, India was suddenly down to 147-3. That, perhaps, was the beginning of the end.
While Kohli was out for 21, Hardik Pandya played a knock of 41 in 40 balls, but that was not enough.
Though Kedar Jadhav and Manish Pandey stitched a crucial 61-run partnership for the fifth wicket, the match went out of India’s hands after they were dismissed in quick succession. While Kedar struck a knock of 67 before being shown the exit way by Kane Richardson, local boy Pandey’s 33 too did not help India's cause.
After their departure, the focus was on Mahendra Singh Dhoni but even he looked off-colour, managing just 13 off 10 balls. Once he was gone, India’s hopes of a whitewash too were dashed.
The Aussies, however, will thank Kane Williamson, who scalped three wickets to turn things their way on a day when the batters too proved their class.
Australia opted to bat after winning the toss, and taking advantage of a rather lifeless Bengaluru wicket, Warner hammered a knock of 124 in just 111 deliveries to make his 100th ODI more colourful and memorable.
Warner toyed with the Indian bowlers, who looked under pressure in the absence of Kuldeep Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah. While the Indians struggled to find breakthroughs, Warner went on a rampage, crafting 12 boundaries and four sixes. Finch played his perfect ally.
A centurion in Indore, Finch looked at his aggressive best in Bengaluru. At a time when his second consecutive century looked obvious, the big-hitter fell six short, and was caught by Hardik Pandya at the mid-on, off Umesh Yadav.
By then, Australia had already reached 231 runs and looked set for a really big score. But Warner was sent back to the pavilion by Jadhav when he tried to loft him over mid-on. With Warner and Finch falling in a gap of five balls, Australia’s progress suffered a jolt, which was further affected with the cheap dismissal of its captain Steve Smith by Umesh Yadav. That dismissal marked Yadav’s 100th wicket in ODIs.
DAVID WARNER'S WAGON WHEEL
Losing three quick wickets, there was a possibility of a repeat show of Indore, where the Aussies lost quick wickets after a good knock by the openers. But taking lessons from the past, Peter Handscomb (43) and Travis Head (29) steadied the ship, building a 63-run partnership in the fourth wicket. While Head was caught by Ajinkya Rahane off Yadav, that partnership between the two helped the side get closer to the 300-run mark — a first in this series.
The Aussies left out misfiring Glenn Maxwell and brought in Matthew Wade (who remained unbeaten on 3, along with Marcus Stoinis — 15 n.o.) and Adam Zampa into the team in a bid to turn the tide.
India, on the other hand, rested three of its key bowlers and brought in Axar Patel, who suffered a minor injury at the nets on Thursday, to join hands with Chahal. Both the spinners went wicket-less and leaked runs. While Patel gave away 66 runs in 10 overs, Chahal conceded 54 runs in eight overs. Though Yadav scalped four wickets, he too gave away 71 runs in 10 overs.