Canberra, Dec 2 (IANS) Brilliant half centuries from Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja and skipper Virat Kohli helped India set a competitive 303-run target for Australia in the third and final ODI at the Manuka Oval on Wednesday.
Winning the toss for the first time in the series which India have already lost, Kohli opted to bat as the viistors made as many as four changes in their line-up — Shubman Gill, Shardul Thakur, Kuldeep Yadav and debutant T Natarajan replacing Mayank Agarwal, Navdeep Saini, Yuzvendra Chahal and Navdeep Saini.
India got off to a decent start as Shikhar Dhawan as Gill added 26 runs before the left-handed opener became the first scalp of pacer Sean Abbott. Kohli, who came into bat at number three, then stitched a 56-run partnership with Gill and brought the Indian innings back on track.
However, just when India looked all set for a big total, the two Australia spinners — Adam Zampa (1/45) and Ashton Agar (2/44) — came into action and took three wickets (Gill 33, Shreyas Iyer 19 and KL Rahul 5) between themselves to bring Australia on top with India reeling at 123/4 in the 26th over.
Hardik Pandya then joined forces with Kohli who scored his 60th ODI fifty and in the process also became the fastest batsman to score 12,000 ODI runs. However, Josh Hazlewood, who has been his nemesis in the last three ODIs against Australia, once again got the big wicket of the talismanic Indian batsman who went back to the pavilion after scoring 63 runs off 78 balls.
Jadeja and Pandya then steadily helped India recover and took their time to get used to the pace of the wicket. Once they got settled, the duo went all guns blazing in the death overs and collected boundaries at will to power India to 302 in their allotted 50 overs.
The duo shared an unbeaten 150 run partnership off just 108 balls as Pandya and Jadeja remained not out at 92 (76 balls; seven 4s, one 6) and 66 (50 balls; five 4s and three 6s respectively.
Brief scores: India 302/5 (Hardik Pandya 92*, Ravindra Jadeja 66*; Ashton Agar 2/44)