Australian pacer Mitchell Starc ripped through India’s lineup with five wickets to lay the platform for a crushing 10-wicket win in the second one-day international in Visakhapatnam on Sunday that levelled their three-match series at 1-1.
Chasing 118 to win after Starc claimed 5-53 for his ninth five-wicket haul in ODIs in a fiery spell earlier in the day, Australia romped home in only 11 overs to set up a thrilling finale in Chennai on Wednesday.
A ferocious Mitchell Marsh cracked an unbeaten 66 in 36 balls — a knock that included six sixes — while Travis Head made 51 not out to get the tourists over the finish line.
“It was a quick one, 37 overs for the game. You don’t see that too often,” Australia captain Steve Smith said. “I thought our bowlers were outstanding.
“Starc in particular with the new ball, swinging it back down the line and putting them under early pressure. He complemented really well with the rest of our bowling group.”
Australia put India in to bat and struck early as Starc had Shubman Gill caught at point for a duck with a wider ball in the first over and the left-armer then dismissed Rohit Sharma and Suryakumar Yadav off successive balls a little later.
Skipper Rohit, back after missing India’s five-wicket win in the series opener due to family commitments, was caught at slip for 13 while the explosive Suryakumar fell lbw in the next ball to leave India in trouble at 32-3 inside five overs.
KL Rahul enjoyed a return to form in the last match with an unbeaten 75, but he fell victim to a sharp inswinger from Starc and Hardik Pandya joined him in the pavilion shortly after thanks to a spectacular catch by Smith.
The Australia captain flew to his right to pull off a one-handed blinder at slip in Sean Abbott’s second over as the hosts lost half their side for 49 on a track that offered the quick bowlers some early swing and bounce.
After a spell of low-risk cricket, India lost Virat Kohli when Nathan Ellis trapped him lbw for 31 in the 16th over and the paceman then had Ravindra Jadeja caught behind for 16 to snuff out the home side’s hopes of a late comeback.
Abbott removed Kuldeep Yadav and Mohammed Shami before Axar Patel (29 not out) carted Starc for two big sixes but the bowler rattled Mohammed Siraj’s stumps as India were restricted to their lowest ODI total against Australia at home.
“It’s disappointing. We didn’t play to our potential and didn’t apply ourselves with the bat,” Rohit said after India’s heaviest defeat in terms of balls remaining.
“We always knew that wasn’t enough runs. It wasn’t a 117 pitch at all. Starc is a quality bowler. He’s been doing it for years for Australia with the new ball. He kept bowling to his strength and we kept falling to his strength.”