Team India suffered a massive loss by 66 runs in the third and final ODI of the three-match series against Australia as the visitors denied Rohit Sharma and Co. of a historic whitewash on Wednesday, September 27 in Rajkot. Batting first Australia posted a massive total of 352 runs on the board with Mitchell Marsh top-scoring as he missed a memorable century by just four runs. Skipper Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli kept India on the course of a huge chase but losing 7 wickets for 53 runs in the end led to the hosts' undoing as they were bowled out for just 286 runs.
India won the series 2-1 and will be happy with how they played in the first two matches. Obviously, the lack of resources affected the Men in Blue's push for the huge target but with probably all the batters in form and the bowlers doing well, they are ready for the World Cup and for Australia, getting the winning momentum was necessary as they were coming off a string of five consecutive losses.
Captain Rohit opened with Washington Sundar. Sundar, who was batting for the first time in recent times (as he didn't get to bat or bowl in the Asia Cup final), looked rusty while Rohit got off to a a brilliant start. The skipper raced to 40 off 22 before slowing down a little. He brought up his half-century in 31 balls before Glenn Maxwell got his first wicket of the night.
Maxwell sent back Sundar for 18. Virat Kohli joined Rohit in the middle and the duo reminded many of the Jaipur run-chase in 2013 against the same opposition when they were chasing a 350+ total. The duo stitched a 70-run stand for the second wicket and kept the Men in Blue on course of the target.
However, Maxwell dismissed Rohit out of nowhere as the ball stuck in his hand when the Indian captain smashed straight back to the bowler. Rohit got out after scoring 81. Kohli too brought up his half-century but his wicket was the big one as Maxwell, who couldn't do much with the bat, was turning it on with the ball. India were three down for 171 and needed a partnership as it was a critical moment in the game.
Shreyas Iyer and KL Rahul forged a 52-run stand for the fourth wicket but the latter got out while mistiming a lofted shot against Mitchell Starc as it proved to be the turning point. Iyer did his bit but he too eventually got out for 48 as India lost the last five wickets for just 37 runs.
Earlier, Australian batters came out all guns blazing as Marsh and Warner began in some style. Australia were 100 up in just 12 overs. Warner scored a quick fifty. He fell, Steve Smith continued with the momentum. Marsh got out on 96, Marnus Labuschagne played in the same way. The Indian bowlers did stage a comeback in the last 20 overs, picking up five wickets with Jasprit Bumrah getting three of them, but still they could only reduce the score from 370-380, which was an actual possibility at one point, to 352.
The two teams will begin their World Cup campaign against one another in 11 days' time in Chennai on Sunday, October 8.