Steve Smith made a sensational catch as Australia leveled the ODI series after beating India by 10 wickets at Visakhapatnam on Sunday.
The Aussies trashed India’s batting line-up, with the hosts pooling for 117, their fourth-lowest home ODI total, as Mitchell Starc took five wickets and Sean Abbott chipped in with three.
One of Abbott’s scalps produced the catch of the game as Smith, who is still standing as captain in place of Pat Cummins, dove to his right to take out Pandya for 1.
The all-purpose star overcame a long toss from Abbott into the slide cordon, which was caught spectacularly by Smith who dove full length to his right to where the third slide would normally be parked.
Speaking on the comments, Indian cricket great Sanjay Manjreka suggested that Smith’s catch had a legitimate claim to be deemed “the catch of the century”, such was the degree of difficulty.
Steve Smith (centre) made a sensational catch to remove Hardik Pandya in the second ODI at Visakhapatnam on Sunday
Smith dove full-length to his right to catch a superb one-handed hold after the all-round Indian beat a long ball from Sean Abbott.
“It’s not far,” replied former Australia captain Aaron Finch.
‘Absolute blindness by Steve Smith. Who needs three slips when you’ve got Steve Smith standing there?
‘He’s been known over the years for taking them one-handed beauties. The last game there were many that just came into his hands, but this one, straight into his hand.
Starc finished with figures of 5-53 in his eight overs, while Abbott claimed 3-23 in six overs and Nathan Ellis caught two in five.
After India collapsed, Mitch Marsh and Travis Head made light work of the chase and finished with 66 and 51 not out respectively as Australia reached the winning target in just 11 overs.
The result leveled the three-game series at 1-1 ahead of Wednesday’s final in Chennai.
Marsh only started the first two games due to the absence of David Warner, who missed the opener to give him more time to recover from a minor broken elbow.
Warner was due to play Sunday, but a stuffy yard kept him out.
Marsh scored 81 off 65 balls in Friday’s five-wicket defeat to India, and continued to pound India’s attack in the second game.
His excellent form as a substitute starter has given Australia food for thought ahead of this year’s World Cup in India.
Although Marsh and Head provided the fireworks with the bat, it was Starc who set up the win with a dazzling display.
The lefty started the destruction in the opening by tempting Shubman Gill (0) with a loose shot, with Marnus Labuschagne gobbling up the catch on the back end.
Smith gave Starc his second wicket with a juggling effort to dismiss Rohit Sharma for 13.
And when Suryakumar Yadav was dismissed lbw by Starc for a golden duck for the second match in a row, the Australian ace was in for a hat-trick.
KL Rahul blocked the hat-trick ball, but Starc caught him up front a short time later, cutting India to 4-48.
Smith’s stunner on the slip, off Sean Abbott’s throw, made it 5-49, and Nathan Ellis nabbed the prized scalps of Kohli and Ravindra Jadeja (16) as India crashed to 7-91 in the 20th.
Starc was beaten for straight sixes by Axar Patel as he returned for another spell, but finished the innings bowling to Mohammed Siraj.
Only Waqar Younis (13) and Muttiah Muralitharan (10) have more five wicket hauls in ODI cricket than Starc’s nine.
Mitch Marsh and Travis Head made light work of the chase and finished with 66 not out and 51 not out respectively as Australia chased down 117 in just 11 overs.
Mitchell Starc finished with five wickets, his ninth five-wicket haul in ODI cricket
India’s total was the fourth lowest at home in an ODI and the third lowest against Australia.
“We saw a clinic there from Mitch today, like we’ve seen before,” Abbott said of Starc’s heroism.
Abbott (3-23) and Nathan Ellis (2-13) made helpful cameos.
Virat Kohli (31) was the top scorer for his side, with Patel (29th) the only other batsman to put up a fight.
It was India’s third lowest ODI total against Australia, behind 63 at the SCG in 1981 and 100 also at Sydney in 2000.