India vs Australia 2020: India draw level with comprehensive victory
- India bounced back and registered an encouraging 36-run triumph to achieve series parity.
Shikhar Dhawan 96(90), KL Rahul 80(52); Adam Zampa 3/50
Steve Smith 98(102), Marnus Labuschagne 46(47), Mohammed Shami 3/77
For detailed scorecard and match commentary, click here.
Nothing's more dangerous than wounded tigers. Having been drubbed comprehensively in Mumbai's series opener, India retaliated ferociously to enforce a tremendous 36-run victory against Australia in Rajkot.
Sparkling half-centuries from Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli, followed by a whirlwind 80 from KL Rahul helped India set a challenging 340-run target. Despite stern resistance, India's bowling group kept their nerve and outclassed Australia to make sure the hosts achieve series parity, and Bangalore's fixture isn't a dead rubber.
Spirited bowling display
Though India had aggregated a humungous target, making early incisions was of paramount importance given Australia's firepower. With the surface lurking its demons of notable turn and variable bounce, the chase definitely wasn't going to be plain sailing.
Moreover, India's frontline pacemen were operating beautifully and deemed penetrating enough. India's hopes escalated as Manish Pandey acrobatically intercepted David Warner's aerial slash. The onus now lied on experienced campaigners Aaron Finch and Steve Smith to guide Australia forward. Local boy Ravindra Jadeja further crippled the visitors, having Finch stumped.
Marnus Labuschagne and Smith then instituted Australia's recovery, manoeuvring strike effectively while punishing freebies with utmost disdain. Forthwith, India tightened the leash and pressure mounted considerably on Australia with an increasing number of dot deliveries. Labuschagne felt the heat and succumbed to Jadeja's prowess, leaving Australia quivering at 178/3.
Australia registered a marginal comeback when Kuldeep Yadav's twin strikes briskly tilted the equilibrium in India's favour. The proficient tweaker nipped out Alex Carey before danger-man Smith chopped on a couple of runs short of hundred. Mohammed Shami and Navdeep Saini delivered the knockout punches, quashing any prospect of a miraculous resurgence.
Banishing Wankhede's ghosts, the majority of Indian batsmen largely performed their roles as designed on Rajkot's featherbed. The vigorous opening pair of Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan led the charge, ensuring India receive an excellent headstart. Australia could've struck early had Rohit's uncurbed slash not eluded Steve Smith's fingertips at backward point. Adam Zampa eventually provided the crucial breakthrough, dismissing Rohit leg before wicket.
Nevertheless, Dhawan, looking supremely confident, motored along and quickly transferred the pressure back on Australia with belligerent strokeplay. Returning to his customary batting position, Virat Kohli played second fiddle, milking singles while garnering the occasional boundary.
The foundation was wonderfully established for India to post a monstrous target. However, quick wickets during the middle phase yet again truncated India's momentum, albeit briefly. Shikhar Dhawan, approaching three figures, nailed Kane Richardson's bouncer straight down fine leg's throat before Zampa's grubber knocked over Shreyas Iyer.
Though with two of India's finest white-ball swashbucklers, Virat and KL Rahul, joining forces, India still fancied their chances. The formidable duo proliferated India's scoring rate, unfurling textbook cricketing shots. Just when the partnership began to appear threatening, Ashton Agar's brilliant ropework sent Virat packing. After losing his captain, Rahul produced an incredible range-hitting masterclass, single-handedly yielding the late flourish India desperately required.
Kuldeep Yadav reflected on his performance -
"It's been tough four-five months after World Cup, but now I'm getting back in rhythm and bowling really well. I bowled six overs initially, and they were batting well, both Marnus and Smith.
When I came back for the last spell, I was looking for wickets. I found that the wicket was slow. Later on, the ball got softer too. So I realised that it would be difficult to hit if I bowled slower. I think I'm bowling at the perfect pace and in good areas."
Published 17 Jan 2020, 22:06 IST