Australia are well placed to snap their five-match losing streak after battling through oppressive heat and humidity to post an imposing 7-352 in the third one-day international against India at Rajkot.
Mitchell Marsh (96), Steve Smith (74) and last-minute World Cup hopeful Marnus Labuschagne (72) paced Australia’s best batting performance of the tour on Wednesday after David Warner (56) fell in the 50s for the third time in as many matches.
Australia looked on target for a 400-plus score at the halfway mark before being held in relative check late, restricted to 5-121 from the last 20 overs.
Warner launched Mohammed Siraj for his fourth six to raise a rollicking half-century from just 32 balls before again wasting a promising start through injudicious shot selection, gloving an off-balance, attempted scoop off seamer Prasidh Krishna to wicketkeeper KL Rahul.
Marsh and Smith batted beautifully to add 137 for the second wicket, the placid Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium deck at odds with the extreme conditions.
Marsh was struggling physically towards the end of his knock, doubled over on his haunches and requiring water to be brought out after every over before, with his second ODI century in sight, bunting a Kuldeep Yadav wrong ‘un to Prasidh at cover.
As Marsh walked slowly off the ground, a weary Smith was sporting ice packs on his head and the back of his neck, while sitting in a plastic chair brought out to the middle.
Smith was trapped leg-before by Siraj before pace ace Jasprit Bumrah struck twice, dismissing Alex Carey (11) with a slower ball and Glenn Maxwell (5), playing his first international in over six months, with a fast yorker.
Labuschagne’s enterprising knock has given the selectors food for thought while ensuring Australia avoided being bowled out for the sixth successive ODI.
Bumrah (3-81) and Kuldeep (2-48), both appearing for the first time this series, shared the bulk of the spoils.