An excellent 52 ball 80 from KL Rahul and fine half centuries from Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli helped India level the three match ODI series in Rajkot on Friday.
Australia opted to keep faith with the same XI that had done the job in Mumbai, while India made two changes by including Navdeep Saini for Shardul Thakur and Manish Pandey for the concussed Rishabh Pant.
Here are our talking points from the game at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium.
1. KL Rahul excellent
Twice in the middle stages of this game, India appeared to be in danger of losing their way- first when Dhawan and Shreyas Iyer fell in quick succession, and the other when Kohli and Manish Pandey fell within six balls of each other. However Rahul’s fluent 80 ensured that India did not waste the start that had been given to their openers. His quickfire innings was perhaps the difference between a score of 310-320 and the 340 that the hosts eventually got. Not only did the Karnataka star excel after coming into bat at No 5, but he also did a fine job behind the wickets, standing in for the unavailable Pant. He also effected a vital stumping to get rid of Mumbai centurion Aaron Finch.
2. Kuldeep’s double swings game India’s way
At 220/3 in the 38th over, Australia had a genuine chance of overhauling India’s target. However Kuldeep turned the game on its head by picking up the wickets of Alex Carey and Steve Smith in the same over – Carey chipped one to Kohli at cover, while Smith chopped one on to his stumps.
3. Rohit Sharma’s fake throw
It was an eventful day for the newly crowned ODI Player of the Year Rohit Sharma. He made 42 with the bat and also appeared to injure his left shoulder while fielding. There was another controversial moment when he appeared to attempt a fake throw to distract Smith and Marnus Labuschagne. Thankfully for India the one field umpire didn’t deem it worthy enough to warranty a five run penalty.
4. No centurion at Rajkot
Despite the game producing 644 runs, there was no centurion on either side. Dhawan and Smith came the closest -the former however pulled a Kane Richardson delivery straight to long leg on 96, while the latter, as mentioned above, was bowled by Kuldeep for 98.
5. India bounce back again.
India have an incredible record of managing to bounce back in the bilateral home ODI series. This win at Rajkot marked the eighth consecutive time they won the second game of a series after losing the opener. The pressure was on the them, given that they had also lost their previous two ODI’S at this venue, but Virat Kohli’s men turned in a commanding performance to square the series and set up a thrilling decider at Bangalore on Sunday.