Nagpur: India’s 4-1 series victory over Australia was scripted by all 14 members of the squad announced for the five-ODI battle. And according to the opening batsman, Rohit Sharma, who was also declared the Man-of-the-Match for the fifth and final ODI even as he scored a match-winning 125, the manner in which the squad combined to give the favourable results underlines India’s bench-strength.
“This team is solid and the future is bright. Whoever has got an opportunity they have come and grabbed it. We have got guys, who can come up at any given point, take up the challenge, and just go out and do their job,” Sharma said.
India chased down a target of 243 runs with 43 balls to spare to clinch the series 4-1, in the fifth and final ODI at the Vidarbha Cricket Association Ground here. With the series victory, India have returned to the top spot in the ODI rankings. Rohit further hailed the bowling performance of the team in the match, and for bouncing back regularly from tough situations throughout the series.
“The way bowlers have bowled as a unit throughout the tournament is commendable. To restrict Australia on 240 on this particular wicket is never easy. The hallmark of the bowling unit has been that they have pulled back the match on crucial time and this has allowed our batters to go and play the game we have played throughout the tournament,” he said.
Ajinkya Rahane, following Shikhar Dhawan’s withdrawal from the squad due to a family emergency, grabbed the opportunity with both hands, scoring his fourth consecutive fifty at the top. Rohit Sharma too is full of praises for Rahane, as he said, “We have played a lot of cricket in Mumbai and we understand each other and know each others’ game really well. We talk when we need to take the risk and when not. These things help in building partnership.”
Meanwhile, Australia Cricket captain Steven Smith has conceded that his team deserved to be defeated 1-4 in the ODI series against India. The Australian captain said, “We lacked in consistency with the bat. We are losing wickets very consistently and that’s not good enough. The top four need to stand up and take control of the match.”
Smith also said that poor decision-making under pressure led to the big defeat. Earlier, chasing 243 to overcome Australia, the Men in Blue rode on the smashing innings of openers Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane and reached the target with 43 balls to spare and seven wickets in hand.
While Rahane missed on a well deserved century as he got out at 61 (74), Rohit struck his 14th ODI ton as he smashed a terrific 125 run inning to seal the victory for his team. The Mumbaikar smashed 5 sixes and 11 boundaries in his 109-ball knock.
Electing to bat, Aaron Finch and David Warner of the Baggy Greens shared 66 runs for the opening stand. Hardik Pandya provided the Men in Blue with the important breakthrough, getting Finch caught at mid-off by Jasprit Bumrah at his individual score of 32. Skipper Steve Smith, who came in next, didn’t stay long at the crease and was caught in front of the wickets against Jadhav 16 (25). Patel was pick of the Indian bowlers as he picked three wickets for 38 runs, followed by Bumrah who returned with figures of 2-51. He was well supported Kuldeep Yadav who couldn’t pick any wicket but kept pressure on the Australian batters.
Rohit Sharma was awarded Man of the Match for his knock of 125, while Hardik Pandya was declared Man of the Series. Sharma slammed his 14th century here, sixth versus Australia and went past 6000 ODI runs.