It might have been one of the best decisions for the young Jamie Bynoe-Gittens to skip his cricket ambitions and turn to football.
The Indian team management will be mighty pleased to have ticked the final boxes heading into the ICC World Cup. Playing their second 50-over game against Australia in a span of three days, the Indian team was keen to analyze Shreyas Iyer and off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin’s readiness ahead of the marquee tournament, starting October 5.
And in the scenario, the third ODI hundred could not have come at a better time for Iyer, and for Ashwin (3/41), the three-wicket haul could pave the way for his late inclusion in the World Cup team as India took an unbeatable 2-0 lead in the series after beating Australia by 99 runs (by DLS method).
Iyer, whose comeback to the Asia Cup after a long injury lay-off was marred by back spasms after a couple of outings in Sri Lanka, was left with the Australia series to justify his selection but a silly mix-up in Mohali, saw him dismissed for 3 runs in the first one-dayer in Mohali.
Heading into the World Cup, Iyer was tipped to be India’s No.4 before the spasm jeoparadised the team’s plans. However, the emergence of Ishan Kishan in the Asia Cup as a dependable middle order bat did come as a relief to the team management.
And with time running out, the Mumbaikar realized that he had to prove himself at the Holkar Stadium in Indore – where he slammed a strokeful (105 off 90 balls) and more importantly, registered the third highest second wicket stand with fellow centurion Shubman Gill (104 off 97 balls) against the Kangaroos, before Suryakumar Yadav (72 off 37 balls) stole the show with a 24-ball half century to propel India to a mammoth 399 for 5 – the highest total against Australia.
In response, Australia’s chase was marred by Prasidh Krishna’s twin strikes to remove Matthew Short and Steve Smith off consecutive deliveries before rain halted play once again, this time forcing the umpires to shorten the contest to 33-overs-a-side, and a revised target of 317.
When play resumed, Ashwin spun a web around the Aussie top order to separate the set pair of Marnus Labuschagne (27) and David Warner (53), and then Josh Inglis in quick succession to have the visitors on their knees. Left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja (3/42) got tonked for a few lusty blows from Sean Abbott (54) and the tailenders but eventually managed to bundle Australia out for 217.
Earlier on Sunday, when Iyer walked in to bat after Ruturaj Gaikwad departed cheaply, the mix-up with Gill in Mohali must have played in his mind but he preferred to brush those memories off with a quick single to get off the mark. He began with a lofted hit off debutant Spencer Johnson before producing a couple of crisp cover drives off Josh Hazlewood.
While Gill took his time to get going in the powerplay, Iyer found the gaps with ease. As Iyer gained in confidence, he went about playing the aerial shots, and the 45-minute rain delay did not disturb his rhythm and went on to bring up his fifty with a straight six off left-arm pacer Johnson. He completed a memorable hundred with a single off Adam Zampa in the 30th over.
Gill, on the other hand, continued his breathtaking form in ODI cricket, and allowed his partners (first Gaikwad and then Iyer) to play the aggressor’s role, and made 9 off his first 19 deliveries, but later switched gears by taking on Sean Abbot for an authoritative six over long-on and a boundary slapped through extra cover. After the rain break, Gill smashed 41 runs in the next 18 balls before reaching his century in 92 balls, his sixth in ODIs, and fifth of the calendar year, but perished soon after.
Australia’s brief breather, however, did not last long as stand-in skipper KL Rahul (52) and Ishan Kishan (31) joined forces in the middle to put up another 59 runs to help India cross the 300-run mark in the 41st over, before Suryakumar Yadav walked in and started straight from fifth gear.
Fresh from a half century in the previous game in Mohali, Yadav bludgeoned four consecutive sixes off one over by Cameron Green and raced past 50 in just 24 balls. The right-hander smoked another couple of sixes to eventually propel India to the mammoth score.
Brief Scores: India 399 for 5 (Shubman Gill 104, Shreyas Iyer 104, Suryakumar Yadav 72 not out, KL Rahul 52; Cameron Green 2/103) vs Australia 217 all out (David Warner 53, Sean Abbott 54; Ravichandran Ashwin 3/41, Ravindra Jadeja 3/42, Prasidh Krishna 2/56