Kuldeep hat-trick sparks Australia collapse in Kolkata heat
Australia wilted in the Kolkata heat on Thursday as India moved 2-0 up in their five-match one-day international series with a 50-run victory that saw Kuldeep Yadav claim a stunning hat-trick.
As temperatures and humidity soared at Eden Gardens the tourists' energy was sapped, a number of Steve Smith's side needing medical treatment as they bowled India out for 252.
However, the exertions in the field came back to haunt Australia as India revelled in the cooler conditions – even managing to deal with dew on the ball.
Smith's departure on his 100th ODI was the key wicket for the hosts before Kuldeep (3-54) turned the game in India's direction with a sublime hat-trick – the spinner removing Mathew Wade (2), Ashton Agar (0) and Pat Cummins (0) to leave the hosts two wickets away from victory.
Hardik Pandya (2-56) and Bhuvneshwar Kumar (3-9) soon accounted for those despite Marcus Stoinis' (62 not out) late flurry to leave Australia facing an uphill struggle ahead of the third match in Indore.
The only thing missing for India was a century from Virat Kohli, the skipper coming up agonisingly short as he hit an impressive 92, but he will not mind as his side moved closer to a series win.
Things did not look so rosy for India when Rohit Sharma (7) was dismissed in the sixth over, but Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane steadied the ship in temperatures close to 40 degrees celsius.
Both men peppered the boundary as Australia toiled – Wade and Hilton Cartwright both needing medical attention, while pace trio Cummins, Nathan Coulter-Nile and Kane Richardson all spent time off the field.
Having taken their second-wicket partnership past 100, Rahane was run out for 55, but Kohli continued to plough on and looked on course for a 31st ODI hundred.
However, as the crowd's excitement levels grew, Kohli's concentration slipped and he chopped on for a stunning 92.
India struggled to rebuild momentum and only added 59 following the skipper's departure, Hardik (20) – who took a hit to the head while at the non-striker's end – was unable to produce down the order.
Chasing 253 to win Australia were quickly in trouble as Cartwright and David Warner both fell for one, the tourists floundering at 9-2.
Smith (59) and Travis Head (39) – who was dropped at slip – appeared to have rescued the situation with a 76-run stand, and some big-hitting from Glenn Maxwell (14) threatened to turn the balance Australia's way.
Any hopes of levelling the series were dashed, though, when Smith was unable to control a pull off Hardik (2-56), substitute fielder Ravindra Jadeja taking the catch at deep backward square leg.
Three overs later India's victory was all but assured as Kuldeep became only the third Indian to take an ODI hat-trick, his left-arm wrist spin bamboozling Australia's lower order.
Stoinis threatened to play the role of killjoy with a well-crafted half century but he quickly ran out of partners as India celebrated another win by bowling the visitors out for 202.