SYDNEY: Another pulsating Steve Smith century and two flying outfield catches clinched the one-day international (ODI) series for Australia with a 51-run victory over India in Sydney on Sunday.
Smith tormented India with his second blistering hundred in as many matches as Australia posted another huge target, reaching 389-4 off 50 overs.
The Australians then restricted India to 338-9 from their 50 overs with Virat Kohli falling on 89 to a magnificent Moises Henriques catch when the master batsman was closing in on a century.
Smith followed up his 105 off 66 balls in Friday’s first ODI victory with an equally dominant 104 off 64 balls as the Indians couldn’t stem the runs on a slow-paced Sydney Cricket Ground pitch in searing conditions.
The total surpassed Australia’s 374 for six which set up Friday’s 66-run crushing win in the first ODI on the same ground and was the third-highest total scored against India.
“I felt good from ball one. Got myself in and went hard,” Smith said. “It was another great foundation set by Finchy and Davey (Warner). That enabled myself and Maxi (Glenn Maxwell) to go hard at the back end.”
It was India’s fifth consecutive ODI defeat — for the first time since January 2016 — with the tourists now bidding to prevent a series whitewash in Wednesday’s final game in Canberra.
“They have outplayed us. We were ineffective with the ball, and didn’t hit the areas,” Kohli said.
“They have a strong batting lineup, they know the conditions and the angles well.
“The chase felt steep. They took the chances that they created in the field, which was the difference.”
Australia’s win may have come at a cost, however, with David Warner injuring his groin in a fielding tumble and likely to be out for the next ODI — and possibly the following T20 series.
Australia’s top order made India pay after skipper Aaron Finch won his second toss of the series to subject the tourists to another afternoon of toil under a hot sun.
Warner hit 83 off 77 balls, Finch 60 off 69, Marnus Labuschagne 70 off 60 and Glenn Maxwell bludgeoned a crowd-pleasing unbeaten 63 from 29 balls.
Smith put on a batting clinic with a full array of quirky shot-making as he raced to triple figures, laced with 14 fours and two sixes.
He fell two balls later stretching for a wide slower delivery off Hardik Pandya and getting a thick edge to Mohammed Shami at third man.
Finch and Warner brought up their 12th century opening stand off 16 overs before Finch mistimed Shami and spooned a catch to Kohli via his pads.