All-rounder Vijay Shankar had conceded 13 runs in his first over but bounced back in style in the final over of the match as he picked up the final two Australian wickets to win the second ODI for India in Nagpur on Tuesday.
Defending 10 runs in the final over, Shankar first removed the well-set Marcus Stoinis with his first delivery and then castled last-man Adam Zampa with his third ball as India won by 8 runs to take a 2-0 lead in the five-match series.
Shankar had earlier scored a fluent 46 off 41 balls before being run out under unfortunate circumstances.
Shankar and Kedar Jadhav were the only two options left for Virat Kohli as Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami had finished their quota of 10 overs.
Kohli decided to go with Shankar even though Jadhav had picked up a wicket for just 33 runs from his 8 overs. The decision turned out to be a masterstroke as Shankar repaid the faith of the Indian skipper with 2 wickets for 2 runs in three balls.
“It was an opportunity to redeem myself after the expensive over I bowled. I was literally waiting for this opportunity, wanted to bowl under pressure because only if I deliver, they will trust me. I was up for the challenge.
“Around the 43rd over, I was telling myself that I am bowling the final over and defend the score, just prepared myself a bit. It’s about staying clear mentally. Wanted to just stick to the basics, hit the stumps from a hard length as there was a bit of reverse,” Shankar said after the match.
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The 28-year-old then spoke about his batting form and thought-process before he got the chance to bowl the final over.
“When you play for the country, you have to be ready to do what the team needs. I always say to myself to keep working on all aspects of my game so that when the opportunity arrives, I am ready to grab it.
“Yes, it (the batting) was good, timed the ball well and rotated the strike well. I was confident of doing well and we (him and Kohli) had a good partnership”.
Shankar also said he would not over-react after taking match-winning wickets but is glad that he could help the tea win.
“Just because I got the two wickets in the last over does not make me feel really high or happy. I am trying to enjoy the moment and then go ahead with that.”
He also batted well, contributed 46 runs off 41 balls before being run out in an unfortunate manner.
“When you get run out like this, I won’t say unfortunate, that was struck and he (Kohli) hit the ball so hard and I didn’t have much time to get back in (to the crease) but then these things happen in cricket. As long as I bat well and as long as contribute to the team’s win, I will be happy.”
He may have made a case for himself with this performance to make the squad for the World Cup but Shankar is not thinking on those lines.
“I’ve said previously also that I never think about the selection or World Cup thing because it’s a long way off from now. Every game is very important. I just look to give my best and win a game for the team,” said the Tamil Nadu all-rounder.
India bowled out Australia for 242 with Kuldeep Yadav picking up 3 wickets while Jasprit Bumrah and Shankar grabbed a couple each to tilt the match in the hosts’ favour.
Stoinis top-scored with 52 runs while Peter Handscomb made 48 but they kept losing wickets at regular intervals which ultimately led to Australia’s downfall.
Earlier, a four-wicket haul from Pat Cummins helped Australia restrict India for 250 in 48.2 overs with Kohli top-scoring with 116.