India were bowled out on 237 and lost the five-match series against Australia 2-3 in the deciding game at the national capital’s Feroz Shah Kotla Ground on Wednesday.
Chasing a moderate target of 273 runs, the hosts faced an early dent as opener Shikhar Dhawan, who had made his career-best 115-ball 143 during the fourth match, was caught behind by wicket-keeper Alex Carey for 12 runs.
India captain Virat Kohli and vice-captain Rohit Sharma in the middle shrugged off the damage and patrolled boundaries to stabilise the second innings of the match. The duo stitched a 53-run partnership before Kohli was caught behind by Carey for 20 runs.
With Kohli’s dismissal and back-to-back wickets falling, the stadium was left in stunned silence. Rohit came in to rescue India as he anchored the innings. He stitched handful partnerships in a hope to make every opportunity count. Along the way, he added another feather to his already illustrious cap, equallising former cricketer Sourav Ganguly’s record of being the third fastest to reach 8000 runs in ODI cricket.
The Indian vice-captain, who came on to the field with 7954 runs under his belt, played 67 balls to complete the feat. Wicket-keeper batsman Rishabh Pant and all-rounder Vijay Shankar failed to help their side as they were dismissed in quick successions. Meanwhile, top-scorer Rohit’s happiness of joining the elite club short-lived as the match titled in Australia’s favour after Carey stumped him for 56 runs.
Ravindra Jadeja and Kedar Jadhav, too, tried to solidify the match but Jadeja was stumped by Carey without disturbing the scoreboard. As Jadhav was joined in by Bhuvneshwar Kumar, it seemed the duo, who stitched a 91-run stand together, would take India over the line.
However, with Bhuvneshwar and Jadhav’s dismissal in consecutive balls, the game titled in Australia’s favour and India wrapped up on 237 in their 50-over quota.
Earlier, Australia got off to a steady start with openers Aaron Finch and Usman Khawaja smashing regular boundaries after opting to bat. The duo stitched a 50-run stand under 10 overs, registering their third half-century stand in this series.
Top-scorer Khawaja along with Peter Handscomb took Australia to 100-run mark under 20 overs. India got its much-needed breakthrough as the left-handed opener was caught by Kohli soon after registering his second ton.
Motivated by the praises from spectators, India rattled the Australian line-up as no touring player could reach 30-run mark. Australia posted 272 for nine with Nathan Lyon stranded on one run.
With the final match, India have brought the curtain down to their international season ahead of World Cup while Australia will tour UAE to play against Pakistan, starting March 22.
Brief scores: Australia 272/9 (Khawaja 100, Handscomb 52, Bhuvneshwar 3-48) defeated India 237 (Rohit 56, Bhuvneshwar 46, Jadhav 44, Zampa 3-46) by 35 runs.