Indian spinners once again came to fore after Bhuvenshwar Kumar's exceptional opening spell helped the home side defend a modest 252 against Australia in the second ODI in Kolkata.
India lead the series 2-0, which leaves the visitors with the uphill task of winning all the three games to walk away with the winner's trophy. The visitors fell short by a margin of 50 runs, getting outplayed yet again. But, an India versus Australia encounter, especially at the historic Eden Gardens, is rarely short on entertainment. Let us take a look at some of the most breathtaking moments of the second ODI:
After a rather amiable encounter between India and Australia in Chennai, the temperature began to rise in Kolkata, both literally and figuratively, as the first signs of banter began to spring up. An altercation sparked off between Virat Kohli and bowler Marcus Stoinis after the former stole a bye with Kedar Jadhav. Australian wicketkeeper Matthew Wade was hit in the midriff when he couldn’t collect the ball cleanly behind the stumps, which prompted the two to set off. Stoinis was not happy with Kohli trying sneak in a bye when the player is in pain, and he did let the Indian captain know. Wasn’t a mouthful, but highlighted the fact that there is certainly no love lost between the two rival teams. Wade engaged in a longer verbal duel with Kohli that extended to the drinks break after the over.
Pandya survives a close shave
It is no secret that tail-enders love their batting skills, and many take pride in it as well. Bhuvneshwar Kumar is no different. He is credited with several handy knocks that help boost the Indian lower-order. Bhuvneshwar is considered an accumulator, who will provide support to senior batsmen and rotate the strike, than a player who would tonk the ball or unfurl a wild slog from time to time.
By the time the innings reaches the 47th over, a batsman isn’t left with too many options. Bhuvneshwar fancied a big shot and bludgeoned the ball down the ground, only to knock down his batting partner Hardik Pandya. The ball struck under Pandya’s ear and everybody, including the Australians, expressed concerns and checked on the batsman. Pandya, who is known for his powerful hitting himself, managed to get his hand in time to protect himself. Fortunately, the batsman got back on his feet and continued with the game, almost immediately.
Virat Kohli might be having a great run with the bat and as a skipper in 2017, but Hardik Pandya is this year’s biggest story in Indian cricket. Though he made his debut the previous year, his ongoing purple patch seems boundless. Currently, Pandya can do no wrong, even if he wants to. Is he caught? Is he run out? Is it a no-ball? Is it a dead ball? Doesn't matter, cause Pandya is likely to remain immortal (well, at least for that particular delivery).
A rather bizarre incident occurred in the 48th over of the match when all-rounder mishit a waist-high full toss up in the air. Australian captain Steve Smith, fielding at cover, followed the trajectory of the ball to complete a fine catch. Perhaps sensing that Pandya might earn a reprieve due to the ball being ruled as a no-ball, Smith yelled out to the bowler Kane Richardson and threw the ball to him, who removed the bails to effect a run-out. If this wasn’t enough the heavens opened up as it began to rain, almost exactly when the ball hit by Pandya had kissed the sky. What we saw next didn’t exactly blow our minds, but probably added to the commotion. An unaware Pandya seemed to have already decided the outcome after Smith had completed the catch as he began to walk back to the pavilion clenching onto his bat, wrapping it under his shirt to protect it from the rain.
— Bakchod Kutta (@DoobeyJi) September 21, 2017
After referring to the video footage of the action, on-field umpire Anil Chaudhary signalled no ball. And a few Australians, including Smith, protested over the run-out. But since the batsman wasn’t aware of the decision, the officials had to exercise the law 27.7 of cricket i.e. 'Batsman leaving his wicket under a misapprehension'. “An umpire shall intervene if satisfied that a batsman, not having been given out, has left his wicket under a misapprehension that he is out. The umpire intervening shall call and signal Dead ball to prevent any further action by the fielding side and shall recall the batsman,” is what the law reads. After a 10-minute rain delay, play resumed with Pandya surviving despite being out two times in a single delivery.
Yuzvendra Chahal's guile, MS Dhoni beguiles to draw curtains on ‘The Big Show’
Twice in the in two matches did the pint-sized Chahal outfox the big-hitting Maxwell. After striking two sweetly-timed sixes off Kuldeep Yadav, he had put the pressure back on the hosts. Kohli turned to Chahal, who had dismissed Maxwell in the Chennai ODI, and it didn’t take long before the right-arm spinner induced an error from the right-handed batsman. The leggie showed heart by flighting the ball and enticing him to come out of his crease to play the big shot, and Maxwell caught the bait. He skipped down the track and missed the line of the ball, with the ball lobbing up after brushing against his pads.
An ever-alert Dhoni leaps forward and dislodges the stumps in a flash. Dhoni goes about his business like a military strategist as you can hear him bellowing commands to his troops (usually the bowlers) via the stump microphone. His ploy to dismiss Maxwell was so neatly executed that it becomes hard to decode how the veteran manages to outdo his opponents time and again, surpassing the benchmarks set by him in the past. The whole episode of Maxwell's dismissal makes for a great case study on executing a plan to perfection, something that Dhoni has said repeatedly and embodied throughout his career. Once 'Mission Maxwell' was accomplished, a usually composed man broke into a celebration, expressed joy, making it an endearing as well as a rare moment where we got to witness the evocative side of the great man.
Another young spinner completes a hat-trick in an India-Australia tie at the Eden
Three genuinely marvellous deliveries were no-match for Wade, Ashton Agar and Pat Cummins as Kuldeep engraved his name in the chronicles of Indian ODI history, becoming the first spinner to take a hat-trick against Australia in the format and only the third Indian to do so. The highlight was the absolute corker of a hat-trick ball that induced an edge off Cummins' willow: a tantalising trademark googly that landed, gripped and turned the unconventional way. A dream ball to realise his dream.
Kuldeep reminds us another young bowler breaking into the side who got an hat-trick at the Eden Gardens at the beginning of this century. Harbhajan Singh’s three wickets, though, had a different context and came in a completely different era, aside from it being a different format. Kuldeep's treble will be remembered by the Eden and India faithful for a long time. It turned the game on its head as India went on to win by 50-runs in the 2nd ODI.