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It was almost the perfect night for Australia – almost.
Once again the Australians were near perfect with the bat, piling on its third biggest ever ODI total of 4-389 to run away 51 run winners on the night and series winners with a match to go.
Steve Smith scored another 62-ball century, the entirety of the top five posted 50+ scores and in a positive omen for the hosts ahead of the first Test, Josh Hazlewood knocked over Virat Kohli again.
Here comes the but…
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But by the end of the night Australia’s selectors, coach Justin Langer and captain Tim Paine were all left firmly crossing fingers and toes, waiting on the results of scans on David Warner’s troublesome abductor.
Smith bashes 16 boundaries!
Warner, who earlier scored an impressive 83, went off early in India’s chase after falling awkwardly diving to stop the ball. The opener immediately clutched at his groin and struggled off the field before being rushed away for scans.
Depending on severity, groin strains typically take two to six weeks to mend and the Adelaide Test is little more than a fortnight away.
Having previously had the headache of picking between Joe Burns and Will Pucovski, selectors may now have to choose both.
Away from that one big injury concern, Australia had another night to remember at the SCG.
A game after smashing the third fastest century by an Australian men’s cricketer in ODI cricket, Smith came agonisingly close to knocking that innings off the podium at the same ground.
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The Australian maestro matched his 62-ball effort from Friday with another on Sunday and would have got there for a ball earlier if Marnus Labuschagne had not slipped over when there was a two on offer.
Instead he had to get there with a drive to long-on off the bowling of Yuzvendra Chahal to match his own historic mark as Australial
It looked like there was more to come when he pulled out an outlandish lap shot from the edge of the cut-strip to pick up another boundary the ball after he notched his ton but he fell a ball later, edging Hardik Pandya to a floating slip.
He departed with a score of 104 off 64, with just 15 dots balls in all – he hit one more boundary than deliveries he allowed go to waste without troubling the scorers.
Bird? Plane? Nah, Steve Smith
Smith’s century was once again the highlight of Australia’s innings and again it was one of many impressive contributions up and down the batting order.
There was another century-stand between David Warner and Aaron Finch, with both making half-centuries.
Finch (60) was the first to depart in the 23rd over and he was soon followed back to the pavilion by Warner (83), run out superbly by Shreyas Iyer in the deep.
It was the kind of wobble that has undone Australian teams in the past but with Smith in form the ascendancy stayed the host’s.
Having had a scratchy start in the series opener, Smith looked the goods from the getgo on Sunday, reaching his fifty in 38 balls and scoring the second 50 in 24.
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He was well supported by Marnus Labuschagne in a 136-run stand and the junior batsman raised a half-century of his own shortly after Smith’s departure. Dropped by Ravindra Jadeja on 44 – a simple chance by any standards – he raised his fifty, a 46-delivery effort, off the next ball he faced.
He went on to make 70, while Glenn Maxwell chipped in with another firework packed cameo, blasting 63 off 29 not out.
India threatened Australia for much of the chase but the hosts always seemed to have things under control.
Once again the Indians flew out of the blocks, with Mayank Agarwal (30) and Shikhar Dhawan (28) putting on 58 runs in the first eight overs before the latter fell softly to Josh Hazlewood. He was soon followed back to the pavilion by his opening partner, caught behind off the bowling of Pat Cummins in the ninth.
Maxwell piles on the runs
Virat Kohli and Shreyas Iyer (38) dragged India back into the chase in a quickfire 93-run stand only for Smith to once again inject himself into the game, diving full length to catch an Iyer pull shot at midwicket off the bowling of Hazlewood.
The Indians weren’t done there however, with Kohli and KL Rahul adding another 72 runs to set the match up for a big finish. Alas, just as the skipper was starting to click through the gears, Hazlewood struck again as Kohli was caught spectacularly by Moises Henriques at midwicket.
A 66-ball 77 from KL Rahul and some late hitting from Haridk Pandya (28) and Ravindra Jadeja (24) dragged India past 300 from there but victory never looked likely.
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