When it comes to India-Australia encounters, the Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium remains a happy hunting ground for the Men in Blue.
And on Tuesday, Virat Kohli and Vijay Shankar ensured that there was no change in script this time either as the host clinched a cliffhanger against the Aussies, defeating them by eight runs in the second ODI to go 2-0 up in the series.
After captain Kohli hammered his 40th ODI century — a gritty 116 -- to help India reach 250 in 50 overs, Shankar picked up two wickets in the final over to restrict the Aussies to 242 — eight short of the target.
The Tamil Nadu all-rounder had a fascinating outing as he first contributed crucial 46 runs with bat and later, kept his cool to guide India home in the final over.
The visiting side required 11 runs, with two wickets to spare in six balls. But Shankar dismissed Marcus Stoinis (52) in the first delivery of the final over. Two balls later, he cleaned up Adam Zampa to ensure India had the last laugh.
If Shankar got the final act right, it was Jasprit Bumrah, who led India’s revival in the death overs. At a time when the Aussies looked steady at 223-6, Bumrah picked up two quick wickets of Nathan Coulter-Nile and Pat Cummins in the 45th over to bring the host back into the game.
That, certainly, was the turning point.
Though Kuldeep Yadav scalped three wickets, it was Bumrah who led the foundation for the victory. It was because of him that the Aussies suddenly found themselves at 223-8 from being comfortably placed at 223-6.
While bowlers helped India defend the total, earlier in the day, captain Kohli led from the front to ensure that there was no slip-up. Put in to bat, India lost Rohit Sharma for a duck but Shikhar Dhawan and Kohli tried building the blocks.
After Dhawan’s dismissal, Ambati Rayudu too fell quickly for 18 runs, raising serious concerns about the middle-order. Losing three wickets for 75, Kohli stitched two partnerships — first with Shankar and later with Jadeja — to steady the ship.
Shankar, who is being considered as one of the World Cup prospects, lapped up the opportunity and went hammer and tongs, before being run out.
There after, Jadeja (21) paired up with Kohli to anchor the innings. While he was caught by Usman Khawaja off Cummins, Kohli was caught at deep square leg by Stoinis off Cummins, who scalped four wickets for 29.
Leggie Adam Zampa grabbed a couple for 62.
But in the end, it mattered very little as India pulled off its 500th ODI win.