India defeated Australia by 50 runs at Eden Gardens to take a 2-0 lead in the five-match ODI series. Kuldeep Yadav’s hat-trick that he took in the 33rd over was the highlight of the match as Indian scripted a comeback to bowl out Australia for 202 after posting a mere 252 batting first.
Kuldeep became the third Indian to take a hat-trick in the ODIs. He was well assisted by Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Hardik Pandya and Yuzvendra Chahal. Bhuvi found his lost swing in Kolkata to pick up three wickets including that of the both openers. Pandya and Chahal took two wickets each.
Earlier, a resolute 92 from skipper Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane’s 55 helped India reach a respectable 252 after winning the toss.
Here are the the three talking points form the game:
Ajinkya Rahane could play a role in ODIs
Rahane has failed to nail down a regular place in the ODI setup despite being around the team for a long time. The 29-year-old cricketer faced a lot of criticism for his 15-ball struggle in the first ODI at Chennai, but made amends for it in Kolkata. The gutsy 55 off 64 on a two-paced pitch was exactly the kind of innings India needed by its opener after Rohit Sharma fell early.
Rahane put up a partnership of 102 with Kohli to lay a solid foundation for the team. He did the majority of the scoring in the partnership and missed out on a big one only after getting run out. The Maharashtra cricketer’s technique has never been in question and the second ODI was a perfect example of how important he could prove to be on a tricky pitch like that of Kolkata. He’s clearly behind Shikhar Dhawan in the pecking order, but his solid batting technique means he could find a place in the squad as a floater or a reserve batsman.
The battle for middle-order slots
India’s top three batsmen bossed the charts in the 2017 Champions Trophy, but their failure in the final put the onus on the middle-order, which they failed to withstand. As a result, Yuvraj Singh was dropped and India moved towards KL Rahul and Manish Pandey to fill the void.
Rahul disappointed in Sri Lanka and his poor form opened the door for Pandey – who impressed with a fifty in the fourth ODI in the island nation. But his consecutive failures in the ongoing series is a clear indication that the middle-order is far from settled. On the other hand, Kedar Jadhav has been consistent with his 20s, 30s and 40s, but must start converting starts into substantial scores to provide the required steel to the batting order.
Wrist spinners continue to rule
India rested Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin in favour of Kuldeep and Chahal and the newbies continue to prove that it was a correct decision. After impressing in Sri Lanka, the wrist spinners duo has continued with the good work at home as well against Australia.
India needed to defend a paltry 252 and it was important for the bowlers to come good. While Bhuvi provided the early breakthroughs, Chahal and Kuldeep broke the backbone of Australia’s batting order with their performance.
Feature image: ICC