September 28, 2023

Australia win third ODI to avoid whitewash in India on eve of World Cup

Updated September 28, 2023 — 10.38amfirst published at 2.37am
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New Delhi: Australia avoided a series whitewash in India on Wednesday after their top order fired and Glenn Maxwell impressed with the ball to secure a comprehensive 66-run victory in the third and final one-day international in Rajkot.

The home side had clinched the series with wins in Mohali and Indore, and a third successive defeat could potentially have deflated Australia ahead of their World Cup opener against tournament hosts India on October 8.

Pat Cummins and his men did not let that happen, however, and racked up 7-352 with each of their top four batters smashing half-centuries.

Playing his first match of the series, Maxwell proved he could be a potent spin option at the World Cup as he claimed 4-40 to help bowl out India for 286 with two balls left in the game.

Electing to bat, Australia’s top order capitalised on a ground with a benign track and short boundary to lay the foundation for a big total.

David Warner smashed his third half-century of the series as he combined in a rollicking 78-run opening stand with Mitchell Marsh (96).

Mitchell Marsh’s 96 off 84 balls helped Australia set a solid foundation.Credit: AP

Warner fell for a belligerent 56, but Marsh soldiered on through suffer through the most oppressive conditions he’d ever faced to add 137 runs with Steve Smith (74) to consolidate Australia’s position before being dismissed for 96.

The heat was so sapping, Marsh suffered heat exhaustion and full-body cramps while batting and was unable to take the field when it came Australia’s time to bowl.


But it mattered not, as his knock went a long way securing the victory at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium which snapped Australia’s five-match losing streak.

Marsh, who hasn’t bowled since this year’s Ashes series due to ankle soreness, required water to be brought out every over towards the end of his gutsy knock.

As he walked slowly off the ground, a weary Smith was guzzling drinks while sporting ice packs on his head and the back of his neck, sitting in a plastic chair brought out to the middle.

“It was as tough and as hot as I’ve ever batted in,” Marsh admitted.

“When I came off I was absolutely exhausted and had full-body cramps.

“I wanted to bowl. I bowled a couple of practice balls and had cramp all the way up my legs.

“With what’s to come, the staff said to cool my jets for the fielding innings, which I’m very appreciative of.”

At 2-242 in the 32nd over, Australia looked to be cruising to a 400-plus total before the Indian bowlers dragged the hosts back into the contest.

Mohammed Siraj trapped Smith lbw for 74 to trigger a mini-collapse, but Australia still registered the highest total at the venue with Marnus Labuschagne contributing 72 off 58 balls to bolster his chances of earning a last-minute, if unexpected, World Cup call-up.

Mitch Marsh departs the crease, fatigued and disappointed to fall four runs short of a century.Credit: Getty

India’s returning kingpins Rohit Sharma (81) and Virat Kohli (56) looked in imperious touch in the chase before both fell to Maxwell.

Rohit crunched a bullet back to Maxwell, who shut his eyes, stuck out his right hand and remained in a state of disbelief when the catch somehow stuck.

Maxwell, who dismissed makeshift opener Washington Sundar (18) in his first over, continued his dream second spell when the great Kohli top-edged a pull to Smith before ending India’s hopes when he bowled Shreyas Iyer (48).

Back after missing more than six months of international cricket due to a flare-up with his previously-broken leg and the birth of his son, Maxwell looms as a World Cup gamebreaker for Australia with his explosive batting and underrated spin bowling in subcontinent conditions.


“For ‘Maxy’ to come back after not playing much cricket over the last months, it was great to see him back,” Marsh said.

“We obviously know his batting is absolute class but what he can do with the ball and the option that he’ll give us with our allrounders is vital to us going deep into the World Cup.”

Reuters and AAP

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