India fight back after Smith century to restrict Australia to 286/9

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Bengaluru: Steve Smith struck his ninth ODI hundred before India bounced back in the last 10 overs to limit the visitors to 286 for nine in the series decider here on Sunday.

Smith (131 off 132) rose to the occasion but did not get much support from the other batsmen. The other substantial knock came from Marnus Labuschagne (54 off 64).

Mohammad Shami (4/63 in 10) was brilliant in the death overs striking thrice as Australia lost five wickets for 63 runs in the last 10 overs.

Australia won the toss for the third time in a row but unlike the last game in Rajkot, opted to bat.

Kohli decided to go in with the winning combination of the last game even though Rishabh Pant was available for selection. It meant K L Rahul was the specialist wicket-keeper batsman for the second successive game.

Australia lost their in-form openers David Warner (3) and Aaron Finch (19) — rather early. Targeting the off-stump channel initially, Shami induced an outside edge from Warner with an away going delivery.

Smith was responsible for Finch’s run out as he called his skipper for a run before changing his mind. Finch, who is usually calm and composed, was furious and used cuss words while walking back to the dressing room.

By the first powerplay, Australia reached 56 for two with Smith and Labuschagne in the middle. It was once again evident why they love batting together.

They both had stitched a 96-run stand on Friday and batted in a similar fashion, rotating the strike regularly and picking up an odd boundary enroute to their 127-run partnership.

Labuschagne, who made 46 in the Rajkot ODI, scored a half-century. Alongside Smith, he looked set for a big knock until a diving Kohli sent him back with a stunning catch at cover.

Jadeja, who got the ball to turn on a dry pitch, got his second wicket of the over when he had Mitchell Starc, who was sent ahead of Alex Carey, caught at deep midwicket leaving Australia at 173 four in 32 overs.

Smith was going along nicely at the other end but the team needed another substantial contribution to go past 300. He shared 58 runs for the fifth wicket with Carey (35) but the latter departed when the innings needed a move on.

Having missed his century by two runs on Friday, Smith reached the milestone with a single towards third man. It was his first ODI hundred in three years.

With not much support from the other end, Smith changed gears in the 46th over when pulled off a helicopter shot off Saini for a six besides collecting a four through backward point.

He hit back-to-back fours in the following over off Bumrah. Before he could do more damage, Smith fell to a fine catch from Shreyas Iyer at deep mid-wicket.

India were impressive in the final three overs with Shami and Bumrah keep things tight. Shami was spot on with his fuller balls again, finding the stumps of Pat Cummins and Adam Zampa.

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