After a lacklustre run at the Wankhede Stadium, India made a strong comeback in their must-win affair against Australia. At the SCA Stadium in Rajkot, the home team scripted a victory by 36 runs. Most importantly, they drew level in the three-match series. India put up a humongous score after which the Aussies fell to the pressure. With all to play for, both sides will now head to Bengaluru.
Dhawan and Rahul make hay
The Aussies didn’t hesitate to field first after Mumbai’s result. But this time around, the visitors had to fight hard as the Men in Blue amassed 340 in their 50 overs. Rohit Sharma (42) and Shikhar Dhawan (96) got the innings going with an 81-run stand for the opening wicket. Adam Zampa removed Rohit, but Virat Kohli (78) carried on the good work with Dhawan with a 103-run stand.
Kane Richardson separated the duo, getting rid of Dhawan. Thereafter, it was Zampa’s turn to dismiss Shreyas Iyer cheaply. Then Virat added 78 runs along with KL Rahul. Yet another time, Kohli fell prey to Zampa’s guile. From there on, Rahul took charge and went hammer and tongs. He went on to score 80 off 52 with six fours and three sixes. The knock propelled the hosts to a decent total.
Steve Smith’s knock in vain
Mohammad Shami gave India an early breakthrough, getting rid David Warner. However, Aaron Finch (33) and Steve Smith (98) steadies the ship for the visitors, putting on 62 runs for the second wicket. Ravindra Jadeja nipped out Finch to break the ominous-looking partnership. Marnus Labuschagne (46) batting for the first time in ODIs, didn’t show any signs of anxiety by any means.
Along with Smith, he put on 96 for the third wicket and kept chipping away at the target. Jadeja removed Labuschagne to bring India back into the game. The 38th over from Kuldeep Yadav turned out to be crucial one. Kuldeep Yadav picked up Alex Carey and then castled Smith to nearly seal the fate of the game. From there on, things well downhill for the Aussies and they were shot out for 304.
KL Rahul, the Player of the Match, said
I couldn’t have asked for a better start. Each day I’ve been thrown different roles and responsibilities and I’m enjoying it for now. Batting at 5, I wanted to give myself a few balls, you know what the wicket is doing and Virat said that it’s coming on nicely.
A few came off the middle, and I was confident I could score, and everything else faded away. Glad I got some partnerships going and played my role to the best of my abilities.
Kuldeep told me my ‘keeping was good too. I grew up ‘keeping but I didn’t do it a lot for my first-class team, but in the last few weeks I did keep for Karnataka, so I’ve been in decent wicketkeeping touch, so hopefully I can keep my spinners and fast bowlers happy.
Virat Kohli, the Indian skipper, said
We live in the days of social media and the panic button was pressed too early. It’s important to not leave someone like KL out. You saw how he batted today. This is probably the best he’s played at the international level. The knock showed maturity and class, and we know exactly what we’re doing in the dressing room. Important couple of games for Shikhar.
He was injured for a long time and in ODIs he’s been one of our most consistent and aggressive performers, and he can changed the situation for the team. It augurs well when the two openers are so good together. Rohit’s left shoulder has popped out of few times, and he should be good to go in the next game.
I asked the bowlers what they wanted to do and they said this was the time to execute the yorkers. All three of them were really good with the yorkers, particularly Shami who changed everything in that over. KL is becoming a multi-dimensional player, and it’s really great when players step up like this.
Aaron Finch, the Australia skipper, said
I didn’t expect it to be cold. I didn’t think I’d need the long-sleeved sweater. I think we were one wicket shy of where we needed to be throughout the bowling innings, but they’re world class. Zampa’s length has been fantastic so far. The way Smithy started today, and nearly got through to the end, but not quite.
Marnus and Smith, the only time they’re apart is when they’re asleep. I think on these tracks, it’s important to capitalize when the batsman gets in. We were always just one more wicket down than what we’d have liked at any stage of the chase and that’s when the required rate started getting out of reach.
Kuldeep Yadav said
It’s been tough four-five months after World Cup, but now I’m getting back in rhythm and bowling really well. Bowled six overs initially, they were batting well both Marnus and Smith. When I came back for the last spell, I was looking for wickets.
Found that wicket was slow. Later on, the ball gets softer too. So it’s difficult to hit if I bowl slower. Think I’m bowling at the perfect pace and in good areas.
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