Jasprit Bumrah's return to form after KL Rahul's late assault restored normalcy for India, who righted all the wrongs of Mumbai in Rajkot to bounce back from their ten-wicket loss and level the three-match series. Bumrah's 1-32 in 9.1 overs was instrumental in India's 36-run win on a batsman's pitch, with negligible dew as Australia were bowled out for 304.
Bumrah didn't even bowl his quota of overs in Mumbai, taken for 50 runs in the seven overs he bowled. In contrast, in Rajkot, he was key for India's stellar start in a steep run-chase for Australia. He tested the Australian openers in a passage of play that had more plays-and-misses than runs as he persisted with a good length just outside the line of offstump as Aaron Finch was stuck on the crease. India had overpitched to Finch in Mumbai, which he took full advantage of, but on Friday (January 17), the pacers offered no width and pulled back the length a tad bit. Finch was left fishing most times with no timing, while David Warner at the other end, didn't get going at all. Australia needed Warner's brisk start if they were to stand any chance of chasing down a steep target. His departure early that was brought about by Manish Pandey's one-handed stunner at cover-point not just put an end to his misery, but also pegged Australia back quite early with them failing to make the most of the powerplay.
Finch was scratchy from the onset, getting just 6 off 18 balls much in contrast to his 25 off 18 in Mumbai. He jumped at anything with width, but struggled against the nagging length outside off that Bumrah persisted with, bowling back-to-back maidens, and ending his first spell, giving away as good as nothing, conceding seven runs in four overs. India persisted with New Zealand's short-ball ploy against Smith, who made a scratchy start of 4 off 15 balls. Smith and Finch joined hands for a 62-run rebuilding Australia's chase with the visitors matching up to India in 20 overs. The pair handled Kuldeep Yadav quite well early on, using their feet well against him, but it was Ravindra Jadeja, who pulled things back with Finch's wicket, having him stumped. It was a decision that was so tight that it could have gone either way, and the third umpire deemed that there was nothing behind the line.
It brought to the middle Marnus Labuschagne, who was playing his maiden ODI innings, being denied of it on debut in Mumbai. Jadeja had bowled two good overs with Finch's wicket but was taken off the attack as Kohli brought back Kuldeep, and Shami, who was expensive. Labuschagne and Smith did what they did best - keeping the scoreboard ticking. They kept busy, running the singles and doubles while getting the boundaries when they could. Labuschagne made the transition from Tests to ODIs seamlessly, comfortable in the middle as the pair went on to add 96 runs for the third wicket that came in good time too. They used their feet well, and kept India's bowlers at bay as Smith reached his fifty.
Jadeja returned after being used in short spells and dried up the runs in a passage of play that frustrated Smith as the required rate crept towards the nine-run mark. Labuschagne was nearing a fifty, but threw his wicket away, holing out to long-off. Kuldeep returned, tossed it up, and scalped Alex Carey and the big wicket of Smith for 98 in the same over to hand India the game, and also became the fastest Indian spinner to 100 wickets. Cricket Betting Tips India got 91 in the last 10 overs thanks to Rahul's blitzkrieg, but Australia's lack of a late power -hitter-cum-finisher cost them as they were unable to recover from Smith's departure in the end.
Rahul earlier, capitalised on the form he is in and raced away to a 52-ball 80, instrumental in India getting to 340, showcasing his versatility at a position that isn't his regular batting position. At one stage, it looked like India would get well past 350, but wickets in quick succession dented them. That, however, didn't deter Rahul, who went after the Australian pacers, with their best pacer in Pat Cummins having only the one over left. Rahul's attack on Starc especially left the pacer conceding his second-highest number of runs in ODIs with 78 in 10. While Australia's bowlers bowled a lot of short balls in the death, in contrast, yorkers from India's bowlers in the same period worked wonders as wickets fell in a heap.
That, after Rahul and Kohli cashed in on some wayward bowling from Australia in a stand that fetched India 78 in quick time. Cummins, who had bowled 7 overs off Australia's first 17, was brought in at that point with the visitors desperate to break the stand. It was Adam Zampa - in his final over - who provided them with the key wicket of Kohli at a crucial time, to account for the Indian captain for the fifth time in ODIs. Kohli lofted a loopy one straight down the ground as Agar plucked it just inside the boundary line, and tossed it over to Starc to complete the catch as he went over with Zampa finishing with 3-50 on a wicket that had little for the bowlers. After much debate following the opening ODI when Kohli came in at 4 to accommodate three openers, he returned to his regular spot at No.3 and his success at the spot continued as he controlled and led India's charge after they were asked to bat. Following the dismissal of Kohli, India were 280 for 4 in 44 overs. Manish Pandey fell soon after but the set-batsman Rahul, who was on 44 off 34 then, took over and launched a counterattack. He found the boundaries at will, dispatching Australia's pacers to all parts as India scored 53 in the final five.
Rohit and Dhawan gave India a strong start upfront, despite Cummins's probing lengths. Starc strayed a tad bit and the openers took advantage, conceding 20 in three overs forcing to Australia to bring on Kane Richardson. The change bowler wasn't spared either as both the openers got stuck into him, compelling Finch to introduce Zampa's leg-spin earlier than he would've wanted with Cummins keeping things tight from one end. Zampa stepped up and ended the opening stand that threatened to get away from them in just his second over, trapping Rohit leg-before against a fuller ball that was too full to be swept.
Dhawan and Kohli joined hands to power India to a position of strength with a century stand - one which Dhawan dominated. The left-hander looked like he wanted to make up for last game's missed chance to convert his fifty-plus score into a century, but perished to a poor shot off as poor a ball from Richardson. It was short and headed down leg when Dhawan decided to pull it straight to fine leg when on 96. Kohli's 78 wasn't a knock typical of the Indian skipper but was one where the dots balls were far lesser with the highlight of his 76-ball stay rotating the strike and keeping the scoreboard ticking while stitching partnerships with Dhawan and Rahul. While the other bowlers were being taken to different parts of the park, Zampa was the standout, bowling stump to stump, keeping the ball up, attacking the batsmen with his accuracy and bowling quite full, making it difficult for the batsmen to get under him to put him away.