Skipper Virat Kohli’s resolute 40th one-day international hundred under pressure steered India to a competitive 250 despite a middle-order collapse in Nagpur on Tuesday.
Australia’s spin troika of Adam Zampa (2/62 in 10 overs), Glenn Maxwell (1/45 in 10 overs) and Nathan Lyon (1/42 in 10 overs) bowled well in the middle overs although it was Pat Cummins who had the best figures of 4 for 29 in the second ODI.
While Kohli thought it was a no-brainer to bat first on a dry surface in Nagpur, Aaron Finch pulled off a surprise by opting to bowl first on a slow turner.
“We expect this pitch to deteriorate, you can imagine what will happen with the spikes on it,” Kohli had said at the toss adding that there would be no dew later on, making it easier to bowl second.
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Kohli came in after Cummins sent back opener Rohit Sharma (0) in the very first over. The Indian skipper was in good touch and played some delightful drives whenever the ball was pitched up.
In hot conditions which tested the fitness of each and every player, Kohli struck only 10 boundaries and ran a lot of singles and twos in his 116-run knock. He was at the crease till the 46th over, faced 120 balls in an innings which will rank among one of his top ODI knocks in recent times.
Kohli steadily build the Indian innings even as he saw the fall of colleagues Shikhar Dhawan (21) and Ambati Rayudu (18).
Dhawan looked in good touch as he too hit some crushing boundaries before being trapped in front by part-timer Glenn Maxwell, with Australia using the review system to good effect.
Rayudu struggled to rotate strike as the ball was not coming on to the bat and was eventually adjudged leg before off Nathan Lyon.
Kohli, then, got a good ally in Vijay Shankar (46 off 41) with whom he added 81 runs for the fourth wicket but the latter was unfortunately run out when he backed up too far at the non-striker’s end to a Kohli straight drive.
Leg-spinner Adam Zampa then got rid of Kedar Jadhav (11) and M S Dhoni (0) off successive balls but Kohli held one end up with Ravindra Jadeja for company. He completed his hundred by cutting one from Nathan Coulter-Nile to the square boundary.
The innings approaching the end, acceleration was required but Jadeja, who scored a crucial 21 off 40 balls, was soon removed by Cummins. Kohli was finally dismissed while trying to pull the same bowler, and he was visibly disappointed to be dismissed with three overs still remaining.
Kuldeep Yadav and Jasprit Bumrah too perished in a jiffy and India could not even bat for full 50 overs.