Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul and captain Virat Kohli hit swashbuckling half-centuries as India powered to a 36-run victory over Australia to level their one-day series on Friday.
Thrashed by 10 wickets in the first match, Dhawan made 96, Rahul, described as a “revelation” by his skipper, hit 80, while Kohli himself smashed 78 as India made 340 for six in their 50 overs.
The series will now be decided in Bangalore on Sunday.
“It was good to see that we came back so strongly,” said Dhawan, who hit 13 fours and a six to ease the pressure on his side after their surprise mauling this week.
“We had a good discussion, we knew we had to target specific bowlers and we showed more intent. Once we were set, we put the pressure on them.”
For Australia, Steve Smith hit a dazzling 98 off 102 balls, with a six and nine fours, while Marnus Labuschagne contributed a battling 46 before the tourists were all out for 304 with five balls of the innings left.
India completely turned the tables on Australian captain Aaron Finch, who won the toss and put them in to bat.
Mitchell Starc, one of the stars of Tuesday’s game, gave away 78 runs without taking a wicket this time.
– No panic –
Spinner Kuldeep Yadav turned the game by claiming Alex Carey and Smith in his ninth over and in the process passed 100 ODI wickets.
Regular wickets then fell and Mohammed Shami came close to a hat-trick to finally end Australia’s resistance.
Shami bowled Ashton Turner and Pat Cummins with successive yorkers and had an appeal for the third wicket turned down on review. He finished with three for 77.
India faced criticism after losing the first game but Kohli swept aside the doubters.
“We live in the days of social media and a panic button being pressed too early,” he said.
Kohli particularly highlighted the game played by Rahul who stumped Finch and caught Starc with a wicketkeeping performance that could see him keep the gloves even if Rishabh Pant is declared fit again from a concussion he suffered in the opening game.
“You saw how he batted today. This is probably the best he’s played at international level. The knock showed maturity and class,” said Kohli.
Pant has been presumed to be the long-term successor to MS Dhoni as India’s wicketkeeper-batsman but Kohli said Rahul had been the “revelation” of the day.
“KL is becoming a multi-dimensional player, and it’s really great when players step up like this.”
Rahul said he played as wicketkeeper in youth teams but had not kept it up in first-class cricket.
“But in the last few weeks I did keep for Karnataka, so I’ve been in decent wicketkeeping touch. Hopefully I can keep my spinners and fast bowlers happy,” said Rahul, who was named man of the match.
Australian skipper Finch said India were “world class” on the day.
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