RAJKOT: The Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium crowd was on its feet as India levelled the series with a memorable 36-run victory over Australia in the second ODI here on Friday.
Two game-changing moments contributed to India’s win. First was KL Rahul‘s belligerent 80, at a strike rate of 154, batting in a new role at No. 5. The second came in the 38th over of Australia’s innings, when Steve Smith (98 off 102 balls; 9×4, 1×6) was bowled by Kuldeep Yadav.
Rahul was unlucky to be run out at the fag end of the Indian innings but he may have provided India with a left-field solution to their long-pending lower-middle-order woes. Rahul was on fire right from the word go, sending all the Australian bowlers on a leather hunt. He was especially severe on Ashton Agar, hoisting him for a straight six.
“I am ready to play at any position according to the need of the team,” he declared after the win.
Rahul’s knock, a fine 90-ball 96 (13×4, 1×6) from back-in-form opener Shikhar Dhawan and a 76-ball 78 from Virat Kohli (6×4), ensured a steep 341-run chase for Australia, who had won the toss and opted to field.
The visitors could only manage 304, thanks to some fine bowling from the Indians. Mohammad Shami was very expensive but bagged three crucial wickets, including that of David Warner.
Chasing teams have yet to win a single ODI at this venue: in the two previous games, India had batted last and lost, by nine runs to England in 2013 and by 18 runs to South Africa in 2015.
The moment the Indians sensed victory was when Smith fell to reduce the Aussies to 221/5, and from here on, apart from Agar (25) and Kane Richardson (24*), none of the Australian batsmen could turn the game around.
India ensured that the Aussie openers, who played a match-winning innings at the Wankhede, departed early. Aaron Finch was dismissed by some brilliant work behind the stumps by Rahul – a Jadeja delivery spun past the outside edge of the Australian skipper’s bat and Rahul removed the bails in a flash. The in-form Marnus Labuschagne (46) too did not have a significant impact on the game.
Earlier, Rohit Sharma and Dhawan’s useful 81-run opening partnership got India going on a flat pitch with a fast outfield. Rohit cracked a 44-ball 42 which included six hits to the fence before being trapped in front by the wily Adam Zampa.
Shikhar – who slammed his second half-century of the series – found his timing early, playing some exquisite drives.
The final ODI will be played in Bengaluru on Sunday.
Source : timesofindia