India will be rueing a pair of missed opportunities to remove opposition captain Aaron Finch during Australia’s run chase at Manuka Oval on Wednesday.
The touring side posted a formidable first innings total of 5/302, and Australia’s subsequent chase started poorly, with temporary opening batsman Marnus Labuschagne chopping on for seven.
But their situation could have been even worse if not for two blunders by India’s fielders during the Powerplay.
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Finch was on 22 when India first granted him a life, with a regulation chance put down in the slips.
Pace bowler Jasprit Bumrah fired the ball on a length, which caught the outside edge of Finch’s bat after seaming away off the deck.
Diving low to his right, the ball slapped into Shikhar Dhawan’s hands, before dropping onto the turf.
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“That’s pretty regulation,” Fox Cricket commentator Mark Waugh sighed. “For a good slips fieldsman, you can’t drop that.”
Cricket great Adam Gilchrist replied: “He should have swallowed that.”
But Finch’s good fortunes continued the very next over when India missed a dream run out opportunity.
Aussie teammate Steve Smith pushed a Thangarasu Natarajan delivery into mid wicket, and called his captain through for a single.
But Indian fielder Hardik Pandya scurried across to collect the ball, quickly offloading it towards the striker’s end.
Although Finch was several metres short of making his ground, Pandya’s throw narrowly missed the stumps, and the single was safely completed.
“They just can’t keep missing these opportunities,” Waugh exclaimed. “Not with these class players.
“Regulation dropped catch, and now a run out where he a good look at the three stumps.”
Fielding had been a worrying concern for India throughout the three-match ODI series, and it once again blemished an otherwise stellar performance in Canberra.
Finch continued to ride his luck through the opening passages of Australia’s run chase, offering up a handful of tough chances and surviving a close LBW shout in 13th over.
But the Australian skipper eventually made his way to 50, bringing up the milestone with a powerful six over square leg in the 18th over.
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It was by no means the most elegant innings of Finch’s career, but he survived a challenging period with the new ball and prevented an early collapse.
Dhawan managed to somewhat redeem himself in the 26th over, holding onto a catch in the outfield to finally send Finch back to the sheds for 75.
But he’ll know better than anyone how costly his earlier mistakes were, Finch having already resurrected Australia’s innings.