It was difficult to dismiss the first One-Day International between India and Australia as an aberration. The match at the Wankhede Stadium felt like a contest between the world’s best and a local side. After a series win in India last year, the Aussies, who had an even stronger squad this time around, showed such dominance in Mumbai that it seemed certain they would go on to win the three-match series. The question on everyone’s mind was – how could India possibly come back from their first ever 10-wicket defeat to Australia?

As Virat Kohli and Co stepped up to collect the winner’s trophy in Bengaluru on Sunday, it was easy to believe that the heroes of the turnaround were the batsmen. Indeed, Kohli, Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul and the likes put the runs on the board when required in the last two ODIs, but a closer look will tell you that the bowlers made an equally important contribution, if not a greater one.

Batting first in Mumbai, India posted a well below par total of 255. At the halfway mark of the match itself, an Australian victory seemed unavoidable unless the hosts pulled off something special. But what happened thereafter was out of the ordinary. No one could have predicted that India wouldn’t take a single wicket. The Australians were expected to give a tougher fight than Sri Lanka, West Indies and Bangladesh did in the recent past, but such a one-side affair was definitely not on the cards.

India’s bowlers needed to step up big time. They looked insignificant at the Wankhede and needed to dig deep to be able to challenge the formidable Australian batting line-up. And to Kohli’s delight, they did just that and more in Rajkot and Bengaluru.

In the second ODI, despite posting a mammoth 340 batting first, India seemed to be in a spot of bother when Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne were at the crease together. However, unlike the series last year when Australia’s middle order, led by Ashton Turner, were allowed to go hell for leather in the second half of the innings, the Indian bowlers kept their discipline this time around and didn’t release the pressure. The result was Labuschagne perishing just as he got set and Smith throwing it away as he braced himself for the final onslaught.

India’s best bowling performance, though, was reserved for the decider on Sunday. The M Chinnaswamy Stadium is, perhaps, the most conducive venue for big hitting in the country. The ground is small and has a lightning fast outfield. Yet, Australia were allowed to hit just two sixes in their entire innings and could only post a sub-par total of 286. As a result of this, the odds at the halfway point of the match, as was the case in the first ODI, were firmly in favour of the side chasing.

“Nobody can say we played an inferior Australia side,” said Ravi Shastri after the match on Sunday. “The boys showed great character. The reason I say character is because after the thrashing in Mumbai, to have the belief that they can do it and do it two games in a row with one day travel, and with Australia winning all three tosses, is an outstanding achievement. If sides are planning to take us apart in the last ten overs, they could be in for a surprise.”

India’s series win was built on the back of a complete bowling effort in the last two ODIs. Kuldeep Yadav, who had lost his confidence during the series last year, seems to have found the right pace to trouble the batsmen. He didn’t get breakthroughs straight away but built enough pressure to force mistakes eventually. His dismissal of Smith and Alex Carey in one over proved to be the turning point of the second ODI. Ravindra Jadeja, too, played his role to perfection in Bengaluru. The left-arm spinner did the holding job and ended up returning with impressive figures of 2/44 from his 10 overs.

Among the pacers, Mohammed Shami was expensive but his early dismissal of the dangerous David Warner in the second and third ODIs went a long way in setting up the match for India. He was lethal at the death, too, and his execution of the yorker seems to be getting better as he gains more experience. Even the move to replace Shardul Thakur, who was taken to the cleaners at his home ground in Mumbai, with Navdeep Saini worked well as the lanky fast bowler didn’t let the Australian batsmen get away with his easy pace.

And finally, this series showed yet again why Jasprit Bumrah is indispensable to the Indian cricket team. The right-arm quick may have picked just one wicket in the three matches but his economy-rate of 3.49 in the second ODI and 3.80 in the third was game-changing for the hosts.

Kohli was full of praise for his premier fast bowler at the post match press conference: “You can always focus on the guys that get wickets. How things are looked at from the outside, they’re perceived very differently in the change room. We understand the kind of impact he (Bumrah) has made in the previous two games.

“He was probably the most disappointed and hurt after the first game, that we didn’t get any wicket at all. We didn’t put them under any pressure at all. So he took it upon himself to stand up as the No 1 bowler, to do the job for the team, to contain runs. In turn, the other guys got rewards because he created so much pressure. So yes, he has contributed massively to these wins. It might not show on the scoreboard, but his contribution was very special.”

The Indian team leaves for its tour of New Zealand on Monday itself. Kohli and his men will play five T20 Internationals, three ODIs and two Tests against the Kiwis. Going in with a confident, determined bowling attack will be a big advantage.