INDORE: Opening batsman Aaron Finch's 124 powered Australia to 293 for six in 50 overs against India in their third One-Day International (ODI) cricket match at the Holkar Stadium here on Sunday.
Finch, who registered his eighth ODI century, shared a 154-run second-wicket partnership with skipper Steve Smith (63 off 71 balls) as Australia, who have already lost the first two ODIs in the five-match series, put up a challenging target for the hosts.
Indian bowlers struggled for the better part of the innings but they fought back towards late to not allow Australia get a big score.
Finch, who missed the first two ODIs due to a calf injury, plundered 12 fours and four sixes.
The 30-year-old and David Warner (42 off 44 balls) provided a near-perfect start for the visitors. They put up 70 runs when Warner was bowled by medium pacer Hardik Pandya in the third ball of the 14th over.
Warner struggled early while Finch looked fluent from the onset. Finch's rhythm helped Warner as the left-hander took some time to get it going.
Warner too looked threatening but Pandya ended his stay -- which brought Smith to the crease. In-form Smith and Finch displayed calculative batting as they didn't restrain themselves from playing big shots. Mixing ones and twos with boundaries, Smith-Finch put India under pressure.
Finch went on the back-foot and used the long handle to good effect against the spin pair of left-arm wrist spinner (chinaman) Kuldeep Yadav and leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal. Kuldeep and Chahal had tormented the visitors in the first two ODIs but Smith and Finch showed how to tackle the spinners in these conditions.
The batting partnership threatened to take Australia past 320 as Finch, after completing his 50, was at his belligerent best and got to the personal three-figure mark in 110 deliveries.
But at the personal score of 124 in as many deliveries, he offered a straight catch to Kedar Jadhav at deep midwicket off Kuldeep in the fifth delivery of the 38th over, with the scoreboard at 224/2.
Four overs later, Smith danced down the track to hit Kuldeep to the hands of Jasprit Bumrah in the 42nd over -- much to the relief of the Indian camp.
Then, India pulled things under control and picked wickets at regular intervals to peg back the visitors.
Chahal dismissed Glenn Maxwell (5) after the right-handed batsman advanced outside the crease only to miss the wide ball before being stumped by Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
Later, pacer Bumrah removed Travis Head (4) and Peter Handscomb (3) to ensure that Australia struggled in scoring quick runs.
All-rounder Marcus Stoinis (27 not out) and Ashton Agar (9 not out) took Australia to 293/6.
Brief scores: Australia (Aaron Finch 124, Steve Smith 63; Jasprit Bumrah 2/52, Kuldeep Yadav 2/75) vs India in 3rd ODI.
Australia XI: 1 David Warner, 2 Aaron Finch, 3 Steven Smith (capt), 4 Travis Head, 5 Peter Handscomb (wk), 6 Glenn Maxwell, 7 Marcus Stoinis, 8 Pat Cummins, 9 Nathan Coulter-Nile, 10 Kane Richardson, 11 Ashton Agar.
India XI: 1 Ajinkya Rahane, 2 Rohit Sharma, 3 Virat Kohli (capt), 4 Manish Pandey, 5 Kedar Jadhav, 6 MS Dhoni (wk), 7 Hardik Pandya, 8 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 9 Kuldeep Yadav, 10 Yuzvendra Chahal, 11 Jasprit Bumrah.
(With IANS Inputs)