The talk of the town was the weather of Kolkata before the game as rain was expected to play spoilsport. But as it turned out, the rain gods only made a guest appearance and went away quickly to allow a full game at the Eden Gardens. India once again put up a clinical performance to decimate the Aussies to go 2-0 up.
With all the rain before the game, the pitch was expected to be on the slower side, unlike the typical Eden surface that offers plenty of runs. Virat Kohli won his second toss on the trot and once again, opted to bat. He believed that there would be some movement in the evening and also backed his 2 wrist spinners.
The Australian bowlers once more went for the off stump line with the new balls. Although the Indian openers handled them better than that in Chennai yet Rohit Sharma was removed by Nathan Coulter-Nile in the 6th over for the team score of 19. Ajinkya Rahane though looked in a sublime touch and struck some handsome boundaries and alongside skipper Kohli, took India to 44/1 after 10 overs.
The stroke-making wasn’t easy yet the Indian duo was ready to guts it out. Kohli, after spending some time at the crease, found his rhythm and the drives were on full show. The fifty partnership was brought up in the 14th over and there was hardly any opportunity given to the opposition. Both got to their individual half-centuries and by the 23rd over, India had reached safely to 115/1.
Australia pulled things back
While looking to convert a single into 2, Rahane fell short of the crease at the striker’s end and departed for 55. Manish Pandey wasted another chance and fell quickly for 3 courtesy Ashton Agar. The hosts were in a slight spot of bother at 134/3 in 28 overs. Kohli was batting beautifully at the other end and then, he found the support of Kedar Jadhav.
Both played aggressively and the scoring rate took a bump. They added 55 runs off 49 balls before Jadhav was sent back by Coulter-Nile for 24 in the 36th over. The captain was approaching his hundred but unfortunately, edged one back onto the stumps and had to walk back for 92 off 107 balls that included 8 fours.
Dhoni couldn’t guide the finish this time and got out for 5 in the 40th over to Kane Richardson. The batting was getting difficult with each passing over and it was important to play out the full quota of overs. Hardik Pandya and Bhuvneshwar Kumar played sensibly and added 35 runs at the death. Wickets fell in a bundle as India was bowled out for 252 but managed to play the full 50 overs.
Bhuvi’s early blows
The target might seem small but on the tough batting surface, it was worth much more. What made it more difficult for Australia was a wonderful spell with the new ball by Bhuvneshwar. He accounted for the wickets of Hilton Cartwright and David Warner pretty early and left the visitors reeling at 9/2. He could have had another had Rohit hung on to Travis Head’s catch in the slip.
The dropped chance did punish India as Head and Steve Smith built a solid partnership for the 3rd wicket. The duo found the boundaries regularly and pushed the home side on the back foot. They added 76 runs until Head chipped a full toss off Yuzvendra Chahal straight to the fielder in the 17th over as the batsman got out for 39.
Maxwell threatened yet again but Chahal’s clever bowling combined with a magnificent stumping by Dhoni scripted his downfall for 14. Smith got to his fifty and kept the side in the hunt. But the man with the golden arm – Hardik Pandya removed the dangerous Smith for 59 in the 30th over and that perhaps was the knockout punch.
If that wasn’t decisive, Kuldeep Yadav removed Matthew Wade, Ashton Agar and Pat Cummins off consecutive deliveries to become only the 3rd Indian bowler to bag an ODI hattrick. At 148/8, the shore looked distant for the Aussie ship but Marcus Stoinis was fighting the lone battle amongst the tides.
He tried to farm the strike with the tail-enders by his side and struck a few boundaries to get to a fifty. But it was too many to get for him alone as the batsmen from the other end left him high and dry. Australia was bowled for 202 runs in the 44th over and India won the match by 50 runs to bring up a 2-0 lead.
India won the toss and opted to bat first
India: 252/10 in 50 overs
Virat Kohli 92, Ajinkya Rahane 55
Nathan Coulter-Nile 51/3, Kane Richardson 55/3
Australia: 202/10 in 43.1 overs
Marcus Stoinis 62, Steve Smith 59
Bhuvneshwar Kumar 9/3, Kuldeep Yadav 54/3
India won by 50 runs
Player of the Match: Virat Kohli