With their ongoing series against India and their next against Pakistan being seen as markers of where Australia stand ahead of the World Cup, Usman Khawaja and Peter Handscomb have given the selectors a very happy headache – the kind that they might have thought could not be possible when Australia were being hammered by India at home in January.
Despite Australia chasing down a target of 359 in the previous match, Aaron Finch won the toss and elected to bat first in the fifth ODI at New Delhi’s Feroz Shah Kotla stadium. Australia dominated the first 30 overs of the innings but India made a comeback after that and restricted the visitors to 272/9.
Khawaja struck his second hundred of the series and the third consecutive 90-plus totals. He shared a 76-run opening stand with Finch and followed that up with a 99-run stand with Peter Handscomb. Finch, who seems to have broken out of his rut that started after last year’s Test series against Pakistan, is expected to keep his place at the top of the order if David Warner makes a comeback but dropping Khawaja has now become a difficult decision to make.
While they were put under the cosh for much of the Australian innings, Indian bowlers made a comeback between the 33rd and 45th over. Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar all wickets in this period while Ravindra Jadeja accounted for Glenn Maxwell.
Australia’s hero from Mohali Ashton Turner threatened to explode once again but Kuldeep reigned him in. He hit a six off the first ball of the 42nd over, the second was a wide outside off and the third was a wrong’un that Turner went after. He ended up finding Jadeja and long-on and Kuldeep had his man.
Bhuvneshwar and Shami then got Marcus Stoinis and Alex Carey respectively off successive overs before Jhye Richardson and Pat Cummins put up a rather frustrating 34-run stand for the eighth wicket. That helped push Australia’s total past the 260-run mark.