Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli smash India to ODI series victory over Australia
Opener hits scintillating century in 137-run partnership with captain as tourists lose by seven wickets despite 131 from Smith
Opener Rohit Sharma smashed a scintillating century as India beat Australia by seven wickets in the third one-day international to clinch the series 2-1 in Bangalore on Sunday.
Steve Smith's first ODI hundred in three years had taken Australia to 286-9, although the tourists at one stage looked set for a 300-plus total on a good wicket at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium.
But Rohit put on a key 137-run second-wicket stand with captain Virat Kohli, who made 89, as India chased down their target of 287 in 47.3 overs.
Man of the series Kohli said: "We got a very good start, and when KL [Rahul] got out, it was a tricky situation because the ball was turning and gripping.
"We had to play deep, and this is how we have played in the last 4-5 years. This is what experience helps.
"It's quite enjoyable batting with Rohit, but more importantly, a comprehensive win.
"When I have that clarity in my mind, I just look to get forward. Clarity of mind is the key thing. You need to have a free mind, and today I felt like that. Today I went for my shots."
Rohit's 119 – including eight fours and six sixes –came off 128 deliveries, while Kohli hit eight boundries in his quickfire 91-ball knock.
"It was an important game, the decider, and we wanted to come out and enjoy ourselves," said man of the match Rohit. "To keep that Australian batting under 290 was a great effort.
"Once KL got out, it needed nobody better than the captain himself. The talk we had in the middle was that one of us wanted to keep going. At no stage, did we want the momentum to go towards the opposition."
Earlier, Australia captain Aaron Finch won the toss and elected to bat but the touring side did not get the strong start they expected from their openers.
David Warner fell cheaply and Finch ran himself out after an almighty mix-up with Smith as both finished up at the same end.
Smith redeemed himself with a typically fluent knock, adding 127 runs with the in-form Marnus Labuschagne (54), before wickets started tumbling at the other end.
Kohli took a stunning one-handed catch to send back Labuschagne and Mitchell Starc, promoted in the order as a pinch-hitter, fell in the same Ravindra Jadeja over.
Smith could not be denied his ninth ODI century, however, and the prolific Australian made a run-a-ball 131 before holing out in the deep.
Jasprit Bumrah bowled with characteristic accuracy and Mohammed Shami (4-63) produced a string of yorkers to hurt Australia who lost their last five wickets for 51 runs.
"We felt if we were able to post 300 or 310, that would have brought our spinners into play," said Finch. "We probably lost just one wicket [too many]. Just that momentum kept getting stalled every now and then.
"To play against the best in the world in these conditions is a great learning experience. Everyone played well and it was a great series to be a part of."
Rohit and Rahul put on 69 for the first wicket before Kohli joined forces with the experienced opener to add 137.
Adam Zampa ended Rohit's knock but not before he took his tally of runs at the venue to 437 in four innings, with his 29th ODI century.
The elegant right-hander, named 2019 ODI Player of the Year last week, also completed 9000 ODI runs in his 224th match.
Kohli occasionally struggled to read Adam Zampa's googly but kept India on course after Rohit's departure.
His dismissal had brought Shreyas Iyer to the crease and he crunched a 35-ball 44 to guide the hosts home in the 48th over.
India fought back in the series after a 10-wicket drubbing in the opening game to outplay Finch's side in the final two ODIs. They won the second match by 36 runs.
Updated: January 19, 2020 08:32 PM