Sharma hits 29th ODI ton as India wins series v Australia

BENGALURU, India (AP) — Rohit Sharma scored his 29th ODI hundred as India beat Australia by seven wickets with 15 balls remaining to win their three-match series 2-1 on Sunday.

Sharma scored 119 runs off 128 balls with eight fours and six sixes as he anchored India’s run-chase in the third and final one-day international. Virat Kohli contributed a superb 89 off 91 balls as the hosts scored 289-3 in 47.3 overs.

This was in reply to Australia’s 286-9. Steve Smith (131) reached his first ODI hundred in three years, while Marnus Labuschagne (54) scored his first ODI half-century after the visitors won the toss and opted to bat.

India’s bowlers, led by Mohammed Shami’s 4-63, did well in restricting Australia to a sub-par total.

Sharma and Kohli then put on 137 runs for the second wicket to deny Australia any chance of a comeback as India clinched the series.

Australia had won the first ODI in Mumbai by 10 wickets. India won the second ODI in Rajkot by 36 runs.

“Rohit played beautifully today and anchored the innings before I took over. It’s how we have played in the last 4-5 years, and this is where experience comes in," Kohli said. "Australia were even better than last time with Steve (Smith), David (Warner) and Marnus (Labuschagne), and a quality bowling attack. Coming back and winning the last two games after losing the first one is very satisfying.”

Opting to bat first, Australia lost Warner (3) early, caught behind off Shami. Aaron Finch (19) also didn’t last long as he was run out.

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It brought Smith and Labuschagne together and the pair put on 127 runs for the third wicket. They looked in command as Smith reached his half-century off 63 balls.

Their 100-run stand came off 105 balls while Labuschagne reached his landmark 50 off 60 balls. He was then out caught in the deep off Ravindra Jadeja (2-44) in a bid to up the scoring. Pacer Mitchell Starc was surprisingly promoted up the order for the same purpose but he too failed, without scoring, giving Jadeja a double blow.

Alex Carey scored 35 off 36 but Australia was again a batsman short and didn’t get the required momentum going into the death overs.

Smith reached his hundred off 117 balls. Overall, he hit 14 fours and a six, adding to 98 runs in the previous match at Rajkot.

“If we had 310, then our spinners could put some pressure in the middle. We just keep losing one wicket too many at every stage of the game," Australia opener Finch said. "Our momentum got stalled, but it's a great learning curve to play against the best in the world in their conditions.”

Shikhar Dhawan suffered a shoulder injury whilst fielding, went for an X-ray and did not bat in India's reply. India got off to a good start as Sharma and Lokesh Rahul (19) put on 69 runs for the opening wicket.

Ashton Agar (1-38) got the breakthrough as Rahul was out lbw in the 13th over. It brought Sharma and Kohli to the crease, and together they eased to a 100-wicket partnership off 116 balls.

Kohli notched up a half-century off 61 balls, while Sharma crossed 50 off 56 balls. Sharma's innings saw him cross the 9,000-run mark in ODI cricket.

Sharma fell after India crossed 200 and then Kohli was out 11 runs short of his hundred, but their partnership had made the series win a formality.

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More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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