It's been a One Day International series for the batsmen, and the seventh—and series-deciding—contest between India and Australia was no different.
Indifferent bowling was summarily bludgeoned to the boundary by both sides, and India's daunting 383/6 was only just enough to overcome Australia and clinch the series.
In terms of spectacle, it's difficult to think of an ODI series that has provided so much entertainment. The bowling has been decidedly subpar, but the quality of the batting has been just exceptional.
|India Innings (50 overs)|
|RG Sharma||c sub (MC Henriques) b McKay||209||158||12||16|
|S Dhawan||lbw b Doherty||60||57||9||0|
|V Kohli||run out (Coulter-Nile/Haddin)||0||3||0||0|
|SK Raina||lbw b Doherty||28||30||2||0|
|Yuvraj Singh||c Haddin b Faulkner||12||14||0||1|
|MS Dhoni||run out (sub [MC Henriques]/Haddin)||62||38||7||2|
|RA Jadeja||not out||0||0||0||0|
|Extras||(lb 5, w 7)||12|
|Total||(6 wickets; 50 overs)||383|
Among an Indian ODI batting lineup that has to be considered the best in the world, Rohit Sharma led from the front.
In the absence of Mitchell Johnson, Rohit simply demolished the Australian bowlers, hitting 12 fours and 16 sixes—a record for ODIs—on his way to 209 from just 158 balls.
The tourists just didn't know where to bowl to him, as everything seemed to go to the fence. Except the ones that cleared it, of course.
It was just the third double century in ODI history—tellingly, the other two are by Indian batsmen, too—and when Mahendra Singh Dhoni joined Rohit at the crease, the home fans were expecting something special.
The captain quickly obliged, making a quick 62 from 38 balls, including one of his trademark helicopter shots that smashed the ball out of the ground entirely.
For an idea of just how ridiculous the innings was, see the following statistic: India were on 240 with 10 overs to go, and put on 101 in the final five overs.
When India are on this sort of batting form, there's no team that can touch them and no better team to watch in world cricket.
|Australia Innings (50 overs)|
|AJ Finch||lbw b Mohammed Shami||5||5||1||0|
|PJ Hughes||c Yuvraj Singh b Ashwin||23||33||2||0|
|BJ Haddin†||b Ashwin||40||49||7||0|
|GJ Bailey*||run out (Yuvraj Singh/Vinay Kumar/†Dhoni)||4||12||0||0|
|AC Voges||b Mohammed Shami||4||14||0||0|
|GJ Maxwell||c Jadeja b Vinay Kumar||60||22||3||7|
|JP Faulkner||c Dhawan b Mohammed Shami||116||73||11||6|
|SR Watson||c Mohammed Shami b Jadeja||49||22||2||6|
|NM Coulter-Nile||c Kohli b Jadeja||3||5||0||0|
|CJ McKay||b Jadeja||18||37||3||0|
|XJ Doherty||not out||0||0||0||0|
|Extras||(lb 1, w 2, nb 1)||4|
|Total||(all out; 45.1 overs)||326|
Australia had a mountain to climb, but had surpassed seemingly insurmountable scores in this series already. To be at 2-2 on flat pitches in India was an achievement in itself, but a series win would have been incredible.
Unfortunately, the visitors shot themselves in the foot with some uncertain batting at the top of the order.
Aaron Finch was trapped leg before wicket for five and coming in at No. 4, captain George Bailey was so concerned with his partner avoiding a run-out that he forgot to get back himself. He was promptly run out in one of the most ludicrous dismissals ever seen in world cricket.
From there, it was always going to be difficult for Australia. Of course, no one told Glenn Maxwell or James Faulkner.
Maxwell came in and immediately dispatched his first ball for six. Helped by some horrendous bowling from Vinay Kumar, Maxwell romped to the fastest half-century ever by an Australian in ODIs.
On his home ground, Kumar went for 102 from nine overs and threw down some horrific deliveries that got everything they deserved. Despite getting clobbered on a length, he continued to serve up pies for Maxwell to feast upon.
Of course, the thing that Maxwell lacks is experience, so when Adam Voges was dismissed, Maxwell should have consolidated his score. Instead, he departed three balls later.
That left Faulkner, who had already been a hero in this series.
Demonstrating some brilliant striking, the Australian repeatedly battered the Indian bowling to the ropes, and there was a point where Australia got very near to India's huge total.
However, the problem was wickets in hand, and Faulkner just didn't have enough partners. Despite his impressive 116 from 107 balls, it just wasn't enough and Australia fell short.
It's been a vastly entertaining series, and India's batsmen looked imperious on home soil. However, one has to wonder how they will fare on pitches that haven't been prepared to entirely eliminate the bowler from the equation.
Flat tracks with little to no deviation make for great batting wickets, but the frustration on the faces of the bowlers have been evident all series. Whatever they did, they received a pummelling.
Scores of 380-plus shouldn't be the norm in ODIs, despite the entertainment value. It's not 2020, and the pitches should be prepared to accommodate this.
A well-deserved victory for India, then, and one that illustrated their batting superiority. However, the Australians ran them close and the predictability of the pitches maybe leaves the series with a small asterisk next to it.
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