Australia’s make or break third one-day international against India began in controversial circumstances after a bizarre moment involving Aaron Finch.
The out-of-form Aussie captain was facing his Indian fast-bowling nemesis Bhuvneshwar Kumar when he and most onlookers were left stunned by a rare turn of events at the MCG.
Kumar has been Finch’s child tormentor this series but his questionable tactic in Friday’s decider divided viewers.
The Indian quick, who had already taken Finch’s scalp in the first two matches, decided to intentionally bowl from well behind the bowler’s crease on one of his deliveries in the ninth over.
Completely dumbstruck, Finch stood up from his batting stance and looked up at the umpire with a look of confusion as the ball flew past the wicket.
The umpire signalled for a dead ball but many observers thought it should have been a no-ball, with Finch given a free shot on the next delivery.
As it turned out, Finch didn’t get a free hit the next ball – instead being trapped in front LBW for 14 runs as Kumar once again got his man.
Many fans were fuming about Kumar’s delivery before the wicket, while others were quick to point out Finch’s shortcomings against the Indian quick and his concerning run of form.
@foxcricket if Aaron Finch has stood his ground for the 25-yarder it should have been called no ball. Because the umpire can not confirm that the ball was legal. The next ball would then have been a free hit.
— Tav (@nudeballers) January 18, 2019
— allthatcricket (@allthatcricket) January 18, 2019
Bhuvi has really made Aaron Finch his bunny in this series.#AUSvIND
— Ankit Pandey (@iamAnkkit) January 18, 2019
Lowest ODI Batting Average for a Top Order Batsman (upto number 6) as Captain of 🇦🇺 (min 8 inn)
— Cover Driving (@CoverDriving) January 18, 2019
This Is The First Time Aaron Finch Has Been Dismissed By The Same Bowler Three Times In ODI Series.#AUSvIND
— Sikandar Khosa (@SikandrKhosa) January 18, 2019
— Vishal Gadara (@VishalGadaraCC) January 18, 2019
— CricBattle Fantasy (@CricBattle) January 18, 2019
Finch’s dismissal followed the wicket of Alex Carey for just five after the opener was caught by India captain Virat Kohli to give Kumar his first wicket.
Shaun Marsh was looking solid until he was stumped by veteran MS Dhoni on 39 runs.
Allrounder Marcus Stoinis only added 10, while fellow Victorian Glenn Maxwell smashed 26 runs (off 19 balls) before he was caught by Kumar off the bowling of Mohammed Shami.
Australia’s hopes of building a respectable total fell largely to Peter Handscomb, who brought up his half century in the 42nd over.
However, Handscomb fell for 58 with four overs to go after being trapped in front by Yuzvendra Chahal – the spinner’s fifth wicket of the innings.
Chahal then snared a remarkable sixth wicket after removing Adam Zampa for eight.
Australia’s innings came to an end on 230 when Shami clean-bowled Billy Stanlake for a duck, leaving the hosts with a massive task ahead of them.
The Aussies are chasing a win that would seal a first ODI series victory in two years after the tourists took the second match in Adelaide.