India go 2-0 up after Kuldeep hat-trick

If Australia harbored hopes of levelling the series before the match, India had other plans at the Eden Gardens. The hosts continued their winning spree continued with yet another clinical victory. They came up with a modest total with the bat and then came back stronger with the ball to bowl out Australia.

India won the toss once again and Virat Kohli opted to bat first. He said that it’s a nice and hard wicket and the ball may do a bit under lights. Team India were unchanged whereas Australia made two changes to their line-up, as Adam Zampa and James Faulkner gave way to Ashton Agar and Kane Richardson. It was a milestone game for Aussie skipper Steven Smith as he played his 100th ODI whereas MS Dhoni played his 300th ODI in Indian colours.

Pat Cummins and Nathan Coulter-Nile started off well, creating pressure. Pat Cummins was hostile from one end, clocking almost 150kph. Nathan Coulter-Nile got the early breakthrough for Australia once again, removing Rohit Sharma when the opener tried to drive one through the off side but only managed to play it back to the bowler. Coulter-Nile collected after a couple of attempts. Virat Kohli walked in and looked a bit nervous early on, he compensated for the dot balls with a flurry of boundaries off his bat. Ajinkya Rahane looked fluent right from the start and the duo brought up their fifties. Australia were suffering from the humidity as well in an ominous sign of things to come ahead of a long day on the field.

Australia were in desperate need of a breakthrough and it came in the form of a run out. Ajinkya Rahane fell short when he attempted a second run. The throw came in from the deep by Hilton Cartwright and it was quite flat and true, making sure Rahane fell short and the 102-run stand came to end. Manish Pandey’s poor run continued when he got bowled by an Ashton Agar delivery which skidded on. Kedar Jadhav started hitting the ball right from the word go but his cameo came to an end when he smashed one straight to the point fielder, giving his wicket away to Coulter-Nile. The big moment followed soon, when Virat Kohli chopped one back onto his stumps. He looked all set for his 31st ODI ton but the milestone wasn’t meant to happen today. Australia kept chipping in with wickets when they sent MS Dhoni back to the dressing room for a cheap score. It was a big blow for India as the in-form Dhoni failed to reach double digits for the first time in ODIs since the Champions Trophy final.

Runs were drying up towards the end and it was another test for Hardik Pandya. The all-rounder was battling it out and wanted to finish the innings on a high. There was a huge moment in the game when Hardik Pandya smashed a high full toss in the covers. The catch was taken and Pandya assumed he was caught out. Ever alert, Steven Smith quickly tried to run out Hardik, mindful of whether the umpire signaled a not out. The umpires called it a no ball for its waist height but the Aussies started arguing for the run out. However, the law states that a batsman can’t be run out if he is not attempting a run and in this case, Hardik thought he was caught out. Thus, the ball was signaled dead and Pandya survived. A brief but heavy shower followed and the players were back on the field with India somehow managing to cross the 250-run mark. The Aussies bowled well towards the death and restricted Team India to a decent total. Eventually the Aussies restricted India to 252, courtesy a clinical bowling display.

Virat Kohli mentioned at the toss that the ball does a bit under lights at the Eden and he was right as Bhuvneshwar Kumar started to swing the ball both ways. It was a superb display of swing bowling and the seamer picked up two early wickets. First, he sent Hilton Cartwright off with a peach which disturbed his off stump then David Warner was caught at slips when he got a thick outside edge. Travis Head was almost a goner but Rohit Sharma put down a catch at first slip off Jasprit Bumrah’s bowling. Australia were in early trouble and stitching a partnership was the need of the hour. Head, along with Steven Smith shared a promising stand but it was broken by Yuzvendra Chahal. The southpaw flicked one straight to the mid-wicket fielder and India got the breakthrough. Glenn Maxwell smashed a couple of sixes before he was undone by Chahal.

Steven Smith was playing a fine knock though. The Australian skipper crossed his fifty and looked set for a big score in his special game, but Hardik Pandya got the much-needed breakthrough for Team India when Smith found the fielder in the deep. It was a big moment in the game as Australia had lost half their side.

India might have been on top but Kuldeep Yadav simply went in for the kill. The chinaman removed Wade, Agar and Cummins in successive deliveries and bagged a hat-trick. He simply ran through the lower order and became the third Indian bowler to take a hat-trick in ODIs. The Indian players were elated and the end was nigh for Australia. Nathan Coulter-Nile and Marcus Stoinis tried their best towards the end but Hardik Pandya broke the looming partnership and Stoinis was left with the last man, Kane Richardson. Stoinis tried to repeat his Auckland heroics where he carried Australia to almost an improbable win. Today, he ran out of partners as well and India completed a 50-run victory.

The Aussies once again lacked in their batting department. Their bowlers did a good job to restrict India to 250-odd but the batsmen failed to perform when it mattered. Steven Smith and Marcus Stoinis were the only batsmen to cross fifty. How will the Aussies fight back from here on? There are three ODIs left and they need to come back harder else India will take an unassailable series lead if they win the third ODI on Sunday in Indore.

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