It was a do-or-die encounter for the Indian team in the second ODI against Australia at the Saurashra Cricket Association stadium in Rajkot. After losing the first ODI in Mumbai, the hosts were eyeing a series leveling win in order to set the series up for an interesting decider in Bengaluru on Sunday.
The ‘Men in Blue’ didn’t disappoint an inch as they put a nearly perfect show to secure a 36-run win over the tourists to level the series at 1-1 in Rajkot.
On a typical sunny day, Australia won the toss and asked the hosts to put runs on the board. However, on pitch that had just runs on offer, Indian opening duo Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan made full use of the situation and allowed the team with a strong foundation at the top of the order.
The Australian leg-spinner, Adam Zampa, however, saw the end to a 81-run opening stand as Rohit (42) was trapped leg before in front of the wicket. On the other hand,
Dhawan (96) was timing the ball exquisitely and looked in menacing form alongside Virat Kohli (78) with India eyeing a huge score in their innings.
A brief collapse in the middle saw India off track before KL Rahul, batting at No.5 played one of his best knocks in his ODI career so far.
Rahul scored a quick 52-ball 80 to see his team past the 300-run mark. He took the attack to the Aussie attack in the final few overs and clobbered them to every nook and corner of the park.
India finished strongly on 340, asking the tourists to chase an improbable 341 on a pitch which was good enough for batsman to exploit and make runs with ease.
The Indian bowlers were right on the money from ball one as a good opening burst didn’t allow the opposition to score freely.
David Warner perished early courtesy a one-handed stunner by Manish Pandey in the covers region. Skipper Aaron Finch and Steve Smith got together to resurrect the innings but even Finch was stumped at 81 in the 15th over. The pair of Marnus Labuschagne (46) troubled the Indians with quick runs as they seemed to cruise their way towards a comfortable victory.
However, Marnus was caught in the deep as it soon led to their downfall with Smith(98) and Alex Carey (18) getting out in the same over. There as no looking back for the Indians from thereon as their seam bowlers made life miserable for the Australian lower-middle order.
A barrage of immaculately executed yorkers in the end from the Indian bowlers saw the tourist bundled out for 304 in 49.1 overs. The visitors felt 36 runs short of the target as India completed a comprehensive victory in Rajkot.
For his brilliant 80 and clean glove work behind the wicket, KL Rahul was awarded the Man of the Match. Both the teams will now travel to Bengaluru for the last ODI in a day’s time. It promises to be a cracker of a decider after what was seen in the two matches so far.
Cover Image Credits: Hindustan Times