India chase down 243 for 4-1 series win vs Australia

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Australia’s Travis Head, right, bats during the fifth one-day international cricket match between India and Australia in Nagpur, India, Sunday, Oct. 1. (AP Photo/Rajanish Kakade)
Australia’s Travis Head, right, bats during the fifth one-day international cricket match between India and Australia in Nagpur, India, Sunday, Oct. 1. (AP Photo/Rajanish Kakade)

Nagpur, India (AP) — Rohit Sharma scored his 14th ODI hundred as India reached 243-3 in 42.5 overs to beat Australia by seven wickets in the fifth one-day international at Nagpur on Sunday.

India completed a 4-1 series victory. After dropping the first three games of the series, Australia won the fourth ODI in Bengaluru by 31 runs, but the visitors could not build on the maiden victory.

“It was a really convincing series win for us. We ticked all boxes. We were put under pressure many times and we came back four times to win four games,” India captain Virat Kohli said. “We have a good headache regarding selection and that makes my job as captain very easy.”

Sharma scored 125 runs off 109 balls, his fourth half-century of the series, which included 11 fours and five sixes. In all, he amassed 296 runs to finish as the highest run-scorer of the series as India retook the top spot in the ICC ODI rankings.

“I love playing against Australia. They are competitive and never give anything easily. That probably brings out the best in me,” said Sharma, after he was named man of the match.

Chasing 243, Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane (61) provided another strong start for the hosts. They added 124 runs for the opening wicket, their third-successive century stand in this series.

On a slow, tough wicket, the duo put on 50 off 69 balls and then crossed the 100 mark off 113 balls. Sharma reached his half-century off 52 balls.

At the other end, Rahane also scored his fourth successive half-century of the series — and 23rd overall — off 64 balls. Overall, he finished with an aggregate 244 runs.

Looking set to get a hundred, Rahane was out lbw to Nathan Coulter-Nile (1-42) in the 23rd over against the run of play. He requested a DRS review but it was turned down.

Kohli (39) then joined Sharma in the middle and put on 99 runs for the second wicket. They helped India cross 200 in the 37th over, making batting look easy on a pitch where Australian batsmen struggled to get going.

Meanwhile, Sharma completed his hundred off 94 balls. This was his sixth ODI hundred against Australia, equaling Desmond Haynes (West Indies) and now second only to Sachin Tendulkar (India), who has nine centuries against the Aussies.

In doing so, Sharma also became the third-quickest Indian batsman to register 6,000 ODI runs, crossing the mark in his 162nd innings, behind Kohli (136) and Sourav Ganguly (147).

Both Sharma and Kohli were dismissed in the 40th over off Adam Zampa (2-59). The former was caught at deep midwicket, while the latter holed out to long off.

Kedar Jadhav (5 not out) and Manish Pandey (11 not out) got the remaining runs.

Earlier, David Warner had top scored with 53 runs off 62 balls as Australia were restricted to 242-9 in 50 overs. Axar Patel (3-38) took three wickets as the visitors struggled on a slow wicket after at one stage being reduced to 118-4.

“It was probably a 300 wicket. One of the top four batsmen needed to make a big score but we lost wickets in clumps again,” Australia captain Steve Smith said. “We have been outplayed and deserved to lose 4-1. A lot of our players have played a lot of cricket in India and we cannot use that as an excuse … We have a few days until the T20 series. We would like to go home with a trophy.”

The three-match T20 series begins on Saturday.