India vs Australia 2017, 3rd ODI: Kuldeep Yadav's two-wicket burst is SK Turning Point of the match
The importance of possessing quality wrist-spinners can never be understated in the context of modern-day limited-overs cricket. Kuldeep Yadav gave another ample demonstration on the potency of those of his ilk during the third ODI between India and Australia at the Holkar Cricket Stadium in Indore.
Despite getting hit early on in the innings, the 22-year-old chinaman bowler showed immense grit and turned the game on its head by nabbing Aaron Finch as well as Steven Smith in quick succession. Those timely scalps went a long way in restricting the visitors to a below-par score on a docile surface and consequently propelled India to a series-sealing 5-wicket victory.
Here's how Kuldeep's two-wicket spell helped the hosts wrest control from Australia during a crucial stage in the match.
Finch century powers Australia
On a flat pitch under extreme heat, Smith won his first toss of the series and decided to take advantage of the batting-friendly conditions on offer. With Finch returning to the top of the order, Australia got off to a strong start as both openers enjoyed the pace of the surface.
Even though both openers began rather cautiously, they soon settled down and began to apply pressure on the Indian bowlers. With skipper Kohli searching for a window of opportunity, he turned to Hardik Pandya who immediately provided the breakthrough. The all-rounder got rid of Warner by resorting to a rapid off-cutter.
However, the home team's joy was short-lived as Smith walked into the arena. Together with Finch, the 28-year-old started to build a substantial partnership. While the opener targeted the boundary on a regular basis, the skipper controlled the proceedings by smartly manoeuvring the field.
At the half-way mark, the Aussies reached a healthy 135/1. Upon establishing a solid foundation, both Finch and Smith upped the ante and put their team in the driver's seat.
Kuldeep provides the star turn
Even as boundaries were bludgeoned from the broad blades of the batsmen, the Indians were feeling the heat. Finch brought up his 8th ODI century with a vicious sweep shot off Kuldeep. Soon after, Smith completed a milestone of his own when he crossed the 50-run mark.
With the two dynamic batsmen in rampaging mode, things were looking ominous for India. When they desperately sought an intervention, Kuldeep brought them back into the contest with a match-defining spell.
He broke the attacking partnership by dismissing Finch. Despite being taken to the cleaners earlier in the game, the left-arm leg-spinner had the courage to keep flighting the ball. A fuller delivery coerced the Victorian into flexing his muscles. However, the powerful shot only went as far as Kedar Jadhav at deep mid-wicket.
Sensing the necessity to see the back of his opposite number, Kohli continued to persist with Kuldeep even as the death overs loomed. The chinaman exponent vindicated his captain's backing by procuring the key wicket of Smith. With a well-tossed up googly, he lured the compact right-hander out of his crease and induced a mistimed heave. Jasprit Bumrah at long-off completed a straightforward catch to send the raucous crowd into a state of delirium.
Visitors lose their vice-like grip
With two well-set batsmen back in the dressing room, Australia were dented further when Glenn Maxwell's premeditated dance down the track ended in him getting stumped by MS Dhoni. Yuzvendra Chahal had gotten just reward after a valiant spell of bowling.
From a position of strength, the tourists lost wickets regularly and conceded the advantage to their opposition. The opportune strikes from the two wrist-spinners set the stage for the likes of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah to take control of the end overs.
The fast bowlers utilised quite a few variations and prevented the Aussies from plundering runs in the final phase of their innings. A combination of yorkers and purposeful cutters ensured that only 59 runs were scored from the last ten overs.
Riding on a fiery opening partnership between Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane as well as an entertaining knock from Pandya, India cruised to the target to take an unassailable 3-0 lead in the 5-match series. Were it not for Kuldeep's double-wicket burst, the home team's batting lineup might have had plenty more to chase.