After a long-drawn tussle, India prevailed over Australia by eight runs in the second ODI at the Jamtha Stadium here on Tuesday to take a 2-0 lead in the five-match series.
Timely strikes by unorthodox left-arm spinner Kuldeep Yadav and a stunning direct-hit run out effected by Ravindra Jadeja saw the home team compete hard and remain in contention to win the match that was sealed by Jasprit Bumrah’s superb second spell and telling blows in the 46th over.
Later, Vijay Shankar accounted for the crucial wicket of Marcus Stoinis in the first ball of the 50th over. The allrounder completed an exacting task, with Australia needing 11 runs off the final over, by castling Adam Zampa.
Chasing a less-than formidable target of 251, Australia began with a solid opening stand in which the Australian captain Aaron Finch made some strides to return to form with the bat. But once the spinners got into action on a slow surface and picked up wickets, the Australian run-rate diminished. Peter Handscomb and Stoinis raised hopes, but eventually the home team held its nerve.
If the ongoing series against Australia is dubbed as a selection trial for certain players to clinch spots for the forthcoming World Cup in England, the rangy Vijay Shankar must have passed it with a splendid showing with the bat initially.
Promoted ahead of experienced campaigners like M.S. Dhoni and Kedar Jadhav who led India to victory in the first match at Hyderabad, Vijay Shankar exhibited skill and power to virtually dominate a fourth-wicket partnership with skipper Virat Kohli after Australia, opting to field, made inroads.
It was a sheer stroke of bad luck when leg-spinner Zampa deflected Kohli’s straight drive onto the stumps behind him. Vijay Shankar scored a 41-ball 46 with five fours and a six.
The range of front-foot shots against Stoinis enabled Vijay Shankar and Kohli to take control of the proceeding after fast bowler Pat Cummins and the spinners Glenn Maxwell and Nathan Lyon had reduced India to 75 for three.
Vijay Shankar’s exit after a scintillating stand of 81 had a debilitating effect on the innings that was given substance by a workmanlike century by Kohli.
Taking guard after Rohit Sharma had directed Cummins’ short ball into the hands of Zampa at third man off the last ball of the first over, Kohli was in complete command until he pulled Cummins to Stoinis at deep square-leg in the 48th over, a setback that resulted in India folding up with ten balls going waste.
It was Kohli’s seventh three-figure knock against Australia, second in the Orange City and 40th in 224 matches.
Food for thought
The selectors and the think-tank will dwell upon Vijay Shankar’s contribution with the bat and ball. Following his 45 against New Zealand in Wellington during the recent series, the chairman of selectors M.S.K. Prasad said that Vijay Shankar has changed the dynamics of team’s choices.
He made his ODI debut against Australia in January this year and did not have opportunities to bat in four of the five innings.
On Tuesday, the team-management stuck its neck out to bat him at No. 5 which he is unlikely to get should he eventually make the World Cup cut.
Bowling the last of the first PowerPlay, Vijay Shankar did not have a happy time though, conceding three fours to Finch and Usman Khawaja.
But in the end, he struck twice and showed glimpses of what his talent can achieve.
Scoreboard India vs Australia, second ODI
India: Rohit Sharma c Zampa b Cummins 0 (6b), Shikhar Dhawan lbw b Maxwell 21 (29b, 4×4), Virat Kohli c Stoinis b Cummins 116 (120b, 10×4), Ambati Rayudu lbw b Lyon 18 (32b, 2×4), Vijay Shankar run out 46 (41b, 5×4, 1×6), Kedar Jadhav c Finch b Zampa 11 (12b, 1×4), M.S. Dhoni c Khawaja b Zampa 0 (1b), Ravindra Jadeja c Khawaja b Cummins 21 (40b), Kuldeep Yadav b Cummins 3 (3b), Mohammed Shami (not out) 2 (4b), Jasprit Bumrah b Coulter-Nile 0 (2b); Extras (b-1, lb-7, w-4): 12; Total (in 48.2 overs): 250.
Fall of wickets: 1-0 (Rohit, 0.6 overs), 2-38 (Dhawan, 8.3), 3-75 (Rayudu, 16.6), 4-156 (Vijay Shankar, 28.5), 5-171 (Jadhav, 32.2), 6-171 (Dhoni, 32.3), 7-238 (Jadeja, 45.5), 8-248 (Kohli, 47.1), 9-249 (Kuldeep, 47.5).
Australia bowling: Cummins 9-2-29-4, Coulter-Nile 8.2-0-52-1, Maxwell 10-0-45-1, Zampa 10-0-62-2, Lyon 10-0-42-1, Stoinis 1-0-12-0.
Australia: Aaron Finch lbw b Kuldeep 37 (53b, 5×4, 1×6), Usman Khawaja c Kohli b Jadhav 38 (37b, 6×4), Shaun Marsh c Dhoni b Jadeja 16 (27b), Peter Handscomb run out 48 (59b, 4×4), Glenn Maxwell b Kuldeep 4 (18b), Marcus Stoinis lbw b Vijay Shankar 52 (65b, 4×4, 1×6), Alex Carey b Kuldeep 22 (24b, 2×4), Nathan Coulter-Nile b Bumrah 4 (4b), Pat Cummins c Dhoni b Bumrah 0 (2b), Nathan Lyon (not out) 6 (6b, 1×4), Adam Zampa b Vijay Shankar 2 (2b); Extras (lb-3, w-10): 13; Total (in 49.3 overs): 242.
Fall of wickets: 1-83 (Finch, 14.3), 2-83 (Khawaja,15.3), 3-122 (Marsh, 23.5), 4-132 (Maxwell, 28.3), 5-171 (Handscomb, 37.3), 6-218 (Carey, 44.3), 7-223 (Coulter-Nile, 45.2), 8-223 (Cummins, 45.4), 9-240 (Stoinis, 49.1).
India bowling: Shami 10-0-60-0, Bumrah 10-0-29-2, Jadeja 10-0-48-1, Vijay Shankar 1.3-0-15-2, Kuldeep 10-0-54-3, Jadhav 8-0-33-1.
India won by eight runs to lead the five-match series 2-0.