The bowlers, too, join the party as the Men in Blue pull off a 36-run win in a high-scoring contest; Smith’s effort goes in vain for Australia
The 50-over game requires a group of individuals to chip with vital contributions for a team to succeed. India couldn’t have asked for a better occasion than Friday’s must-win encounter against Australia for a cohesive effort.
Shikhar Dhawan laid the foundation for a massive total, thanks to solid partnerships with opener Rohit Sharma and captain Virat Kohli, who returned to his customary No. 3 position. K.L. Rahul, batting at an unaccustomed No. 5 slot, then ensured that India finished on a high of 340 for six on a flat pitch at the Saurashtra Cricket Association stadium.
Pandey’s brilliant catch
Manish Pandey timed his jump to perfection and plucked the ball out of nowhere to send back the dangerous David Warner, putting Australia under pressure. Spin twins Ravindra Jadeja, the hometown hero, and Kuldeep Yadav struck vital blows in the middle overs even as Steve Smith threatened to run away with the game. The pace trio of Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Navdeep Saini — included in the place of Shardul Thakur — then came to the party as the Men in Blue sealed a 36-run win.
While India saw almost all its players making contributions, Smith and leggie Adam Zampa — who continued to finish on the right side of his ‘mini-battle’ with Kohli — lacked support from the others. The series will be now decided in Bengaluru on Sunday.
Asked to bat, Rohit and Dhawan gave India a solid start of 81 before the former was trapped in front by Zampa while attempting a sweep. Dhawan played some glorious shots and continued to prosper in the company of Kohli. The left-hander was looking good for a century before holing out in the deep for 96. Shreyas Iyer came and went, trying to swing Zampa and losing his stumps.
Kohli, who treated Zampa with respect and gave others the treatment, was brilliantly caught on the edge of the boundary, thanks to a relay catch by Ashton Agar and Mitchell Starc. Manish Pandey, who came in for the injured Rishabh Pant, fell quickly. At 280 for five in the 45th over, India was in danger of falling short of a challenging total for the second time in succession.
However, Rahul took the game away from the Aussies, also justifying the faith shown in him as a middle-order batsman. Off the 60 runs India scored in the last six overs, Rahul contributed 38 off 18 balls, including an astonishing assault on Starc.
The Karnataka player then impressed with his glovework, having skipper Aaron Finch stumped off Jadeja. Despite Smith and Marnus Labuschagne — who batted for the first time in an ODI after not getting an opportunity on his debut in the first game in Mumbai — forging a 96-run partnership for the third wicket, Jadeja struck at a crucial juncture.
The left-armer enticed Labuschagne into an error, the ball landing into the long-off fielder’s hands.
Kuldeep spun it India’s way in his penultimate over, tempting Alex Carey into playing against the turn with a clever change of field.
Smith, on 98, then played on while trying to cut, as the fate of the game was sealed. Shami, though expensive, castled Ashton Turner and Pat Cummins off consecutive deliveries.
Richardson employed the long handle against Shami in the penultimate over before Bumrah, who bowled two maiden overs and looked sharp, forced Zampa to edge behind.
Rahul snapped up the offering, making it a night to cherish for him and India.
INDIA: Rohit Sharma lbw b Zampa 42 (44b, 6×4), Shikhar Dhawan c Starc b Richardson 96 (90b, 13×4, 1×6), Virat Kohli c Starc b Zampa 78 (76b, 6×4), Shreyas Iyer b Zampa 7 (17b, 1×4), K.L. Rahul run out 80 (52b, 6×4, 3×6), Manish Pandey c Agar b Richardson 2 (4b), Ravindra Jadeja (not out) 20 (16b, 1×4), Mohammed Shami (not out) 1 (1b); Extras (b-5, lb-4, w-5): 14; Total (for six wkts. in 50 overs): 340.
FALL OF WICKETS: 1-81 (Rohit, 13.3 overs), 2-184 (Dhawan, 28.4), 3-198 (Shreyas, 32.4), 4-276 (Kohli, 43.1), 5-280 (Pandey, 44.1), 6-338 (Rahul, 49.4).
AUSTRALIA BOWLING: Cummins 10-1-53-0, Starc 10-0-78-0, Richardson 10-0-73-2, Zampa 10-0-50-3, Agar 8-0-63-0, Labuschagne 2-0-14-0.
AUSTRALIA: David Warner c Pandey b Shami 15 (12b, 2×4), Aaron Finch st. Rahul b Jadeja 33 (48b, 3×4), Steve Smith b Kuldeep 98 (102b, 9×4, 1×6), Marnus Labuschagne c Shami b Jadeja 46 (47b, 4×4), Alex Carey c Kohli b Kuldeep 18 (17b, 1×6), Ashton Turner b Shami 13 (15b), Ashton Agar lbw b Saini 25 (25b, 3×4), Pat Cummins b Shami 0 (1b), Mitchell Starc c Rahul b Saini 6 (11b), Kane Richardson (not out) 24 (11b, 4×4, 1×6), Adam Zampa c Rahul b Bumrah 6 (6b, 1×4); Extras (lb-10, w-10): 20; Total (in 49.1 overs): 304.
FALL OF WICKETS: 1-20 (Warner, 3.2), 2-82 (Finch, 15.1), 3-178 (Labuschagne, 30.5), 4-220 (Carey, 37.2), 5-221 (Smith, 37.5), 6-259 (Turner, 43.1), 7-259 (Cummins, 43.2), 8-274 (Agar, 46.1), 9-275 (Starc, 46.3).
INDIA BOWLING: Bumrah 9.1-2-32-1, Shami 10-0-77-3, Saini 10-0-62-2, Jadeja 10-0-58-2, Kuldeep 10-0-65-2.
India won by 36 runs to level the three-match series 1-1.
Third and final ODI: January 19 (Sunday), Bengaluru, 1.30 p.m.
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