Australia have completed an unprecedented ODI series victory over India in Delhi, underlining why their World Cup defence is no longer the lost cause it seemed months ago.
Calm centurion Usman Khawaja and crafty legspinner Adam Zampa enhanced their reputations as Australia defeated the hosts by 35 runs, marking the first time they have battled back from 0-2 down to win a five-match bilateral ODI series.
The three confidence-building victories came after Australia had won just four of their past 26 completed one-dayers.
Khawaja, who bettered Virat Kohli to finish the leading run-scorer of the series and all but cement his spot in Australia’s World Cup squad, scored 100 in a total of 9-272 on Wednesday.
A collapse of 6-54 followed Khawaja’s dismissal but Pat Cummins and Jhye Richardson ensured the tail wagged, taking 42 runs off the final four overs.
India crashed to 6-132 in response and were bowled out for 237 when Marcus Stoinis skittled Kuldeep Yadav’s stumps with the final ball of the series.
Australia banked their first ODI series win in India since 2009, first overseas ODI series win since 2016, first ODI series win since 2017 and plenty of momentum in their march towards the World Cup.
A seventh-wicket stand of 91 runs between Kedar Jadhav and Bhuvneshwar Kumar created some nervous moments for Australia but it was snapped by Cummins in the 46th over.
Cummins fired out Shikhar Dhawan with the new ball, Stoinis removed Kohli for 20 then Zampa hammered home Australia’s advantage with three wickets in the space of 14 deliveries.
Rohit Sharma gave fans at Feroz Shah Kotla hope but the bumper crowd fell silent when the gun batsman was the fifth wicket to fall, dismissed for 56 in farcical fashion.
Sharma’s bat slipped from his hands while attempting to clatter a boundary and Alex Carey effected a sharp stumping off the bowling of Zampa.
Recalled offspinner Nathan Lyon was Australia’s most economical bowler, logging figures of 1-34.
Khawaja, who started the series turnaround with his maiden ODI ton in Ranchi, put on a 76-run stand with Aaron Finch then a 99-run stand with Peter Handscomb.
Australia’s selectors suddenly have the good sort of headaches, rather than scrambling to find batsmen capable of delivering match-winning innings in the absence of Steve Smith and David Warner.
Ashton Turner, who starred with 84 not out as Australia chased down a record 359 to win the preceding game, scored 20 on Wednesday after being preferred ahead of Shaun Marsh.
Australia travel to Dubai on Thursday for a five-match ODI series against Pakistan, which will be the final chance for players to impress before selectors name a 15-man World Cup squad.