By Amlan Chakraborty
NEWDELHI (Reuters) – Usman Khawaja struck his second century in three matches as Australia thumped India by 35 runs in their final one-dayer to seal a come-from-behind 3-2 series victory at the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium on Wednesday.
Opener Khawaja strengthened his claim for a place in the World Cup squad with an elegant 100 to steer Australia to 272-9, though the tourists had looked on course to top 300 at one stage.
Adam Zampa (3-46) and his fellow bowlers then skittled India for 237 in exactly 50 overs to register their third successive victory as Australia overcame a 0-2 series deficit.
Khawaja raised 76 with skipper Aaron Finch to give Australia a strong start after the tourists elected to bat. Finch made 27, failing to convert a solid start into a big knock as he lost his off-stump to Ravindra Jadeja.
At the other end, Khawaja needed 48 balls to reach his half-century, his fourth score of 50 or more in the series.
The left-hander hit Kuldeep Yadav for two sixes and his 10 boundaries included a couple of imperious pull shots off Mohammed Shami.
Khawaja took a single off Yadav to bring up his hundred but fell soon after to Bhuvneshwar Kumar (3-48), triggering a mid-innings collapse for Australia who had been cruising at 175-1 in the 33rd over.
Virat Kohli took back-to-back catches to dismiss Khawaja and Glenn Maxwell, and Shami sent back Peter Handscomb for 52.
Marcus Stoinis, returning from a thumb injury, contributed 20 and Jhye Richardson made a breezy 29 down the order.
India lost Shikhar Dhawan early in their chase. Rohit Sharma’s 53-run stand with skipper Kohli (20) briefly calmed nerves in the Indian dressing room before their top order caved in spectacularly.
Kohli was undone by extra bounce from Stoinis, Rishabh Pant perished in the slips, and Vijay Shankar holed out in the deep in an unnecessary show of aggression having hit the previous ball for a six.
India’s victory chances were effectively snuffed out with Rohit’s dismissal, which summed up the hosts’ somewhat muddled approach to a tricky chase.
With plenty of overs left and only the bottom half of the order to come, Rohit needlessly charged out of his crease attempting an ugly hoick off Zampa.
The right-hander not only missed the ball but also lost his bat which slipped out of his palms, leaving Alex Carey with a simple stumping.
The late belligerence of Kedar Jadhav (44) and Kumar (46) injected some excitement but India could not avoid defeat in their final ODI series before this year’s World Cup in England and Wales.
(Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; editing by John Stonestreet)