‘Gone mad’: Aussie experiment backfires

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Cricket: Mitchell Starc was given a chance to play the role of pinch hitter and come in at number 5 in the series decider for Australia against India. It was a gamble that ultimately fell flat for the Aussies.

Stick to your day job Mitch!Source:AP

Virat Kohli’s India has completed an impressive comeback to defeat Australia in their three-match series, cruising to victory in the decider overnight.

Australia managed 9/286 in final ODI of its whirlwind trip to the subcontinent, thanks to Steve Smith’s first one-day century in three years, but the total was no match for the home side, who reached the target with seven wickets in hand in the 48th over as it timed its chase perfectly.

Rohit Sharma’s 119 and 89 from captain Kohli ensured the hosts would leave the happier team.

After missing out on reaching three figures by just two runs at Rajkot on Friday, Smith made no mistake in Bengaluru and raised his bat while carrying the Australian innings from first drop, scoring 131 from 132 balls.

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Smith will have been desperate to make amends after being involved in a terrible mix-up that saw skipper Aaron Finch run out for 19.

“This is shellshock,” Matthew Hayden said in commentary. “Real half-committal, Finch thought he was going, he drew him into that (run).

“He would be so disappointed. It was yes, no, it was wait, it was confusion.”

Michael Slater added: “Finch was furious, it was such a mix-up.”

But Marnus Labuschagne and Smith combined for a 127-run stand before the Queenslander was caught for 54 by a diving Kohli at cover.

Normally that would bring Alex Carey to the crease — but not today. In a bizarre change in the order, fast bowler Mitchell Starc came in at No. 5.

Mitch Starc – middle order batsman.

Mitch Starc – middle order batsman.Source:FOX SPORTS

The commentators tried to explain the decision but few had a good answer for it.

“Here’s a sign that Australia want many more than they think they can get from here,” Harsha Bhogle said. “Clearly the message to Starc is, ‘It doesn’t matter, go out and swing your bat and get us a quick 25’.”

The experiment was over after just three balls with Starc caught on the boundary for a duck.

“It didn’t come off but worth trying,” Kerry O’Keeffe said.

The world was quick to take a double take on the bizarre decision.

Even Starc’s wife Alyssa Healy weighed in.

Smith’s ninth ODI hundred helped Australia to the competitive score, although Kohli appeared pleased with the bowling performance at the end of the innings.

India’s bowlers checked Australia’s surge in the end with paceman Mohammed Shami returning figures of 4/63.

India could cruise through its innings with few risks taken. Only Ashton Agar’s 1/38 and Adam Zampa’s 1/44 slowed the hosts’ momentum, while Pat Cummins had one of the worst days of his ODI career with 0/64 from seven overs.

Starc also went at 7.3 an over, while Josh Hazlewood was more impressive with 1/55 in his first ODI in 14 months.

But after Agar dismissed KL Rahul for 19, Sharma and Kohli put on a show. Sharma notched up his eighth one-day century against Australia to finish on 119 from 128 balls, while Kohli also hit 89 before being bowled by Hazlewood.

Australia was most left to rue a poor end to its own batting innings, where no-one could go with Smith.

The former captain hit 36 from 21 balls in the final 10 overs, while his teammates contributed just 22 from 39 balls in the same period. Ashton Turner scored only four but chewed up 10 balls, while Agar went at less than a run a ball for his 11 not out.

“We were probably a few short,” Finch said. “Just as we started to build a platform we lost a wicket and then rebuild again and lose one.

“That middle order in particular haven’t played a huge amount of one-day cricket. They’re still learning.”

That’s how you do it!

That’s how you do it!Source:AFP

After Starc was promoted, Kohli admitted he was surprised Glenn Maxwell hadn’t been on the tour to lift the run-rate.

“I was very surprised he wasn’t here, especially the way he performed last time in the T20 series,” Kohli said.

“He got 100 in the last game and they won the series here.”

Meanwhile, Smith never lost his composure to post his first ODI century in three years. He played gloriously all around the ground and became the fourth-fastest Australian to 4000 ODI runs along the way before he was caught off the bowling Mohammad Shami in the 48th over.

The series loss marks Australia’s first loss in a bilateral series since last January.

— with AAP

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