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India beat Australia by five wickets

CLINCH ODI SERIES, GRAB TOP SPOT 

INDORE: All-rounder Hardik Pandya rose to the occasion yet again with a fluent 78-run knock as India registered a comfortable five-wicket win over Australia in the third ODI to grab the number one spot, yesterday. Chasing 294 for a win, India overhauled the target with 13 balls to spare in front of a packed Holkar stadium to take a series-clinching 3-0 lead. Openers Rohit Sharma (71) and Ajikya Rahane (70) set the platform for the win with their 139-run partnership while Pandya steered the side to victory with his crucial knock, which came off 72 balls. Australia opener Aaron Finch’s fluent century came to a nought due to self-destructive batting by Australia in the last 10 overs. Finch, playing his first game of the series, had placed Australia at a commanding 232 for two in 40 overs with his 124-run innings but they lost the plot after that. When they could have gone for a kill and a score in the vicinity of 350, all Australia could manage was just 59 runs and lost four wickets to settle for 293 for six. India faced a few anxious moments in their run chase after losing the set openers along with captain Virat Kohli (28) and Kedar Jadhav (2) but Pandya, who had played crucial role in India’s win in the series-opener in Chennai, ensured there were no more hiccups. He kept Australia under pressure with his confident batting as he not only rotated the strike comfortably but also smacked four sixes off Ashton Agar to keep the run-rate under control. Pandya found a good partner in Manish Pandey (36) as they went about their business calmly and shared a 78-run stand for the fifth wicket. The win meant that India have maintained their unbeaten run in Indore and have now recorded sixth consecutive ODI series win since June 2016. India, already number one in the Test format, replaced South Africa at the top of ODI ranking table by taking their tally to 120 points, one more than the Proteas. Rohit subdued Australia with his punishing knock on a flat track, which had nothing for the bowlers. His knock was studded with six fours and four sixes. —Agencies

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