India’s bowling attack hails of immense variety, which helps them wear a dominant look. The bowling attack once again proved what they are capable of by defending a competitive 252 on a two-paced Kolkata pitch. India have now attained an unassailable 2-0 lead in the five-match series and the onus of making a comeback is now on Australia.
At the end of first innings, when India had 252 runs on the board, one thing was certain – the match being a close encounter, considering the kind of performance Indian bowlers put in the series opener. But, Kuldeep Yadav’s hat-trick swung the momentum in India’s favour in a single over.
Virat Kohli delivered a gem of an innings and combined extremely well with Ajinkya Rahane to put up a solid 102-runs stand. Kohli was yet to put up a dominant batting display against Australia; he didn’t have a great run in the Test series and fell for a duck at Chennai and an innings like this was due from him. He came out hard in testing conditions at Eden Gardens to put India in command with his tenacious 92. Rahane was all set on 55 when he fell short of his ground in an attempt to sneak a double.
At the time of Rahane’s dismissal, India were well placed at 121 for 2 inside 24 overs. A total of close to 300 looked on the cards with the kind of firepower India had in the lower middle-order, but fall of wickets at regular intervals didn’t let them achieve fruitful results.
Manish Pandey disappointed at No. 4 and lost a golden opportunity to make an impact at the said position. After a duck in the Chennai ODI, Pandey just managed to garner three runs from this encounter. Kedar Jadhav looked extremely comfortable on 24, but once again failed to convert a good start into a big score. Kohli was unfortunate to not have achieved his 31st ODI ton, but got the job done for his side.
MS Dhoni drove a bit early due to the ball arriving a tad later than expected and Steve Smith took a good catch at cover. Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah contributed some priceless runs to help India cross the 250-run mark.
Defending 252 against the star-studded Australian batting line-up needed a fantastic start and Bhuvneshwar Kumar ensured one. He set the tone and produced one of the finest opening spells of his One-Day International career. He swung the new ball both ways only to play with batsmen’s mind and eventually got the better of them.
Bhuvneshwar got rid of both the Australian openers cheaply and put them on the back foot. His figures from the first spell (6-2-9-2) speak volumes about the kind of impact he had with the new leather. Bhuvneshwar would have had three wickets to his name had Rohit Sharma not dropped Travis Head in the slip cordon. The benchmark was set and it was the wrist spinners turn to join the party.
Steve Smith showed immense resistance and was well supported by Travis Head at the other end. Just when the duo threatened to take the game away, Yuzvendra Chahal chipped in with a crucial wicket of Head. Few overs later, Chahal struck once again and this time with the huge wicket of Glenn Maxwell.
At this stage, Australia needed a quite 50-run partnership to swing the tide in their favour. Smith was battling it out in the middle and Marcus Stoinis was starting to find his feet when Hardik Pandya provided the much-needed breakthrough by getting rid of the Australian skipper.
Australia were 148 for 5 when Kuldeep Yadav inscribed his name in the history of ODI wicket with gold. Australia were just 105 runs away from squaring the series and had some batting to come. Kuldeep scalped three in three and dented Australia’s run-chase. He also became the third Indian bowler after Kapil Dev and Chetan Sharma to have achieved the milestone in ODI cricket.
Things were almost over for Australia with eight-wicket down, but they had a batsman standing at one end. Stoinis almost pulled off a miraculous run-chase against New Zealand earlier this year and looked threatening on this occasion as well. Stoinis backed his abilities and started creating problems for India, but Bhuvneshwar ended Australia’s hopes by trapping Kane Richardson leg before while Stoinis remained unbeaten at the other end. Indian bowlers once again proved their worth and made good use of the conditions.