SYDNEY: Steve Smith was at his imperious best as he scored a second successive 62-ball century to drive Australia to a 51-run victory over India at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Sunday, sealing the one-day series 2-0 with a match to spare.
The clash, almost a carbon copy of Australia’s 66-run win in Friday’s match at the same ground, was soured for the home fans by an injury to David Warner which may rule him out of the test series around the new year.
Warner had scored a bright 83 in an opening partnership of 142 with his skipper Aaron Finch (60) as Australia made light of the stifling afternoon conditions to pile on a massive 389 for four.
Four overs into India’s reply after a southerly wind had brought a dramatic drop in temperatures, however, Warner injured his adductor while fielding and had to be helped off the field.
The 34-year-old opener was taken to hospital for scans, and Australia will be sweating over the results with the start of the test series 18 days away.
His team mates wrapped up the match comfortably enough despite a fine innings of 89 from Virat Kohli and a 72 from wicketkeeper KL Rahul as India limped to 338 for nine.
“I felt good from ball one and was really able to go hard,” said Man of the Match Smith. “Nice to score some runs for the team and get a good total. Nice performance.”
India’s openers were dismissed in successive overs with only 60 runs on the board before skipper Kohli took charge and put together partnerships of 93 with Shreyas Iyer (38) and 72 with Rahul.
Once the skipper departed to a flying catch by Moises Henriques off Josh Hazlewood, Rahul took up the mantle to keep alive Indian hopes that they might just pull off their biggest ever successful run chase in one-dayers.
Rahul thumped five sixes in a pugnacious innings before holing out in the deep off spinner Adam Zampa.
“Completely outplayed,” said Kohli. “With the ball we were not that effective, we just didn’t hit the areas we wanted to that effectively. The chase always felt a bit too steep.”
Earlier, the day had belonged to the batsmen of the Australian top order, who once again were given the opportunity to showcase their skills in the face of some lacklustre bowling.
Smith needed only 64 balls for his 104 before falling to all-rounder Hardik Pandya, who before Sunday had not bowled in international cricket since September last year due to a lower back injury.
Glenn Maxwell’s belligerent unbeaten 63 from 29 balls and a stroke-filled 70 from Marnus Labuschagne helped Australia build on the strong platform and finish with a flourish.