India vs Australia 2017, 2nd ODI: Hardik Pandya bouncing out Steven Smith is SK Turning Point of the match
In what was a truly enthralling game of cricket, India overpowered Australia to register a 50-run victory at the iconic Eden Gardens in Kolkata and surge to a 2-0 lead in the 5-match series.
While Kuldeep Yadav's remarkable hat-trick will inevitably hog the limelight, those who witnessed the game will realise that the dismissal of Steven Smith by Hardik Pandya set the foundation for the chinaman bowler to take centre stage. As such, the seam all-rounder bouncing out Australia's captain at a crucial juncture provided the turning point in the match.
Here's how the Indian bowlers combined to derail Australia's run-chase in the second ODI.
Smith leads from the front
On a tricky pitch, Australia's pursuit of 253 got off to a wretched start as Bhuvneshwar Kumar gobbled up Hilton Cartwright as well as the dangerous David Warner in a spell of world-class swing bowling.
Upon walking into a precarious situation with the vociferous crowd baying for blood, Smith immediately set about resurrecting the visitors' hopes by building a substantial partnership with the enterprising Travis Head. Showing great sense of occasion, the run machine fed the strike to his batting partner who was timing the ball quite sweetly.
When it seemed like the game was slowly slipping away from their grasp, India got a window of opening through Yuzvendra Chahal. The leg-spinner prised out Head with a filthy full toss. Glenn Maxwell's kamikaze approach did not last long as an error in judgment removed him from the equation.
Pandya's perfect bouncer
Even as wickets kept tumbling at the other end, Smith remained unnerved and looked intent on taking his team to the finish line. Appearing to be at ease against both pace and spin on a bowling-friendly pitch, the 28-year old brought up his 18th ODI fifty through a nudge off Kuldeep Yadav.
Indian captain Virat Kohli's move to bring Pandya into the attack defied conventional logic. With Marcus Stoinis new to the crease, a more prudent approach would have been to attack with spin. The decision seemed to be working in Australia's favour when a half-volley from the all-rounder was promptly dispatched to the boundary by Smith.
In the 30th over of the innings, Pandya vindicated the captain's faith on his bowling. He induced the outside-edge off Smith's blade in the third delivery. Even though it sped away to the boundary, the sharpness in the right-armer's bowling planted a seed of doubt in the batsman's mind.
Pandya delivered the prized scalp of Smith by unleashing a perfect bouncer. Relying on the two-paced nature of the surface, he sent a well-targeted short ball at the right-hander's head. Cramped for room, the Australian skipper took on the challenge and unfurled a pull shot. But to his dismay, the ball only went as far as Ravindra Jadeja who completed a vital catch by swooping in from deep square leg. Interestingly, the left-arm spinner had just entered the field as a substitute for Kedar Jadhav.
Australia lose their way
With Smith no longer there to guide them, Australia's batting lineup proceeded to collapse like a pack of cards. Kuldeep took advantage of the uncertainty and began to wreak havoc on the hapless opponents.
The wrist-spinner became the first bowler in the game's history to pick up a hat-trick at both U-19 and senior ODIs. Matthew Wade, Ashton Agar and Pat Cummins all came in and went out in a jiffy. Kuldeep's virtuoso performance not only reduced the tourists to 148/8 but also sent the packed crowd into a state of delirium.
Even though Stoinis battled on gamely, the writing was already on the wall. A maiden half-century in ODIs was scarce consolation for the man from Perth as Australia were bundled out for 202. Apart from securing a convincing triumph, the Indian camp will be buoyed by the continued development of Pandya as well as Kuldeep's ability to run through batting lineups.