Australia restored parity in the ongoing three-match ODI series against India in spectacular fashion, as they secured a dominating ten-wicket triumph in the second match, here at the Dr YS Rajasekhara Reddy ACA-VDCA Cricket Stadium in Visakhapatnam.
Albeit the target of 118 runs was always unlikely to trouble the visitors’ batting unit, Rohit Sharma’s bowlers could not provide the team with any chance of a comeback in the game, with the run chase being a one-way traffic exhibition. Courtesy of a flawless opening stand between Travis Head and Mitchell Marsh, Australia chased the total down in only 11 overs.
An 11-run second over off Mohammed Siraj’s bowling, followed by a similar outcome in the third over off Mohammed Shami, helped the Aussies set the tone for the chase. The two Indian pacers struggled to replicate what Mitchell Starc, Nathan Ellis and Sean Abbott did earlier in the day, with Head and Marsh breaching the 50-run mark in only 32 deliveries.
The introduction of Hardik Pandya turned out to be an inefficacious act as well, with the all-rounder conceding three sixes in his first over – the last of which saw Mitchell Marsh bringing up his fourteenth half-century in ODI cricket.
Head followed his partner’s footprints to strike a couple of boundaries in the next over, helping his team reach the three-figure mark in only nine overs. The left-handed batter brought up his half-century a couple of overs later, before Marsh concluded the chase with a boundary.
Field Day for Australian Pacers
Earlier, Australian bowlers had a field day, as they bowled India out for a scanty score of 117 runs. After being asked to bat first, none of the batters from Sharma's team could exhibit accountability, with the innings folding on only the 26th over.
The visitors, on the contrary, took only three deliveries to set the tone when Mitchell Starc sent Shubman Gill, the young Indian opener who has been in good nick recently, packing. Having missed the last match owing to personal commitments, skipper Sharma got off to a decent start but could only last 15 deliveries, with Starc waving his wand of wizardry again.
The left-arm speedster was seen at his best here in Visakhapatnam, as in the very next delivery after getting Sharma’s wicket, he trapped Suryakumar Yadav leg before wicket for what was the latter’s second consecutive golden duck.
The onus of an Indian comeback then shifted to KL Rahul, predominantly because of his redemption act in the first ODI, where he played a match-winning knock of unbeaten 75 runs. On this occasion, however, the resilience and grit were found wanting as Rahul could only last 12 deliveries before losing his wicket to Starc.
Whilst his pacers did an incredible job, Australia’s skipper, Steve Smith also deserves praise for his astute bowling alternations. In only his second over of the match, Sean Abbott joined the party by dismissing Hardik Pandya, with Smith being instrumental on the field as well, grabbing a spectacular catch.
India’s Resilience Ended With Virat Kohli’s Departure
The next phase of play saw a slight deviation from the uncontested Australian dominance, as the pair of Virat Kohli and Ravindra Jadeja did manage to construct somewhat of a rearguard. The former battled gallantly for his 35-ball 31 under dire circumstances, but once he was dismissed by Nathan Ellis in the 16th over, it seemed only a matter of time before the visitors inflicted an all out.
Jadeja departed soon, after scoring a 39-ball 16, giving Ellis his second scalp of the day. Axar Patel and Kuldeep Yadav tackled the initial threats to tiptoe India’s tally to the three-figure mark, but it was nothing more significant than a consolation attempt before the last three wickets fell in a span of eight deliveries. Abbott scalped the first couple of those three wickets, before Starc recorded his ninth ODI fifer.