Kuldeep Yadav’s maiden hat-trick and a fluent 92 by Virat Kohli helped India cruise to a 50-run win over Australia in the second one-day international in Kolkata on Thursday.
Yadav once again combined with fellow wrist spinner Yuzvendra Chahal to dismiss the visitors for 202 in 43.1 overs while chasing 253 and earn India a 2-0 lead in the five-match series.
Left-arm wrist spinner Yadav and fast bowler Bhuvneshwar Kumar claimed three wickets each while Chahal and paceman Hadik Pandya took two each.
But it was Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane, who scored 55, who laid the foundation for the victory with their 102-run second-wicket partnership that made India post 252 all out.
“We didn’t feel like we had enough on the board at the break. But we knew if we had a good start we (would) have a good chance of defending it,” said Kohli, who received the man of the match award.
“Bhuvi’s (Kumar) spell became even more important because we knew the wrist-spinners would do damage in the middle. The deliveries he got the batsmen out with were unplayable.”
Kohli added: “You can count on Bhuvi for getting the breakthroughs. Two young spinners bowling with a lot of heart, speaks volumes about their characters.”
Kumar struck early after removing the two Australian openers, including David Warner for one, in an inspired first spell that lasted six overs.
Skipper Steve Smith, who made 59, and Travis Head then forged a 76-run partnership as the duo tried to steady the innings by counter attacking the Indian bowlers.
But the introduction of spin once again proved troublesome for the visitors with leg-spinner Chahal sending back Head, for 39, and then the big-hitting Glenn Maxwell, for 14.
Maxwell, who looked threatening with two sixes during his brief stay, was stumped by wicketkeeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni who was quick to clip the bails off.
Smith though carried on the good work to register a gritty 50 in his 100th ODI but the delight was short lived after he fell to paceman Hardik Pandya.
– Yadav strikes –
Yadav, playing just his ninth ODI, then turned on the heat with his triple strike in the 33rd over that spelt doom for the visitors.
He got wicketkeeper-batsman Matthew Wade (2), Ashton Agar (0) and Pat Cummins (0) to become only the third Indian after pacemen Chetan Sharma and Kapil Dev to record an ODI hat-trick.
Marcus Stoinis remained unbeaten on 62, but his valiant knock came too late in the day as Kumar, who returned figures of 3-9 in his 6.1 overs, wiped up the tail.
“We were pretty happy with 250, thought we pulled things back pretty well. Did a really good job there. Batters though made poor decisions, and you can’t do that against a quality team like India,” said Smith.
“Stoinis was good at the end there, just needed someone to bat with. One of the top four needs to go on and make a hundred,” he added.
Earlier fast bowlers Nathan Coulter-Nile and Kane Richardson claimed three wickets each to pull things back for the visitors after India started off strongly.
Pandya and Kumar also scored 20 each to add valuable runs to the total with their 35-run seventh-wicket partnership.
There was also a bit of drama in the 48th over of the Indian innings when Pandya was caught off a no-ball, but Smith ran him out only to see the batsman walking off the ground following a slight drizzle.
Smith and company tried to argue with the on-field umpires for their run out call but in vain.
The third match is scheduled for Sunday in Indore.