Virat Kohli channeled his inner champion to steer the Indian team out of troubled waters with a masterful 85, which paved the way for a six-wicket win over Australia in their World Cup opener in Chennai on Sunday. Kohli found a reliable ally in the super-cool KL Rahul (97 not out off 115 balls) during his match-winning stand of 165 that eventually made the 200-run target look like child’s play on a Test track, although it took 41.2 overs to achieve it. he. His brave partnership came after three top-order Indian batsmen returned to the pavilion without disturbing the scorers.
But equally responsible for India getting two points are their spinners. Ravindra Jadeja (3/28 in 10 overs) along with Ravichandran Ashwin (2/34 in 10 overs) and Kuldeep Yadav (2/42 in 10 overs) made life miserable for the Australians as they bowled them out for 199 in 49.3 overs. .
But Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood were incisive during the first three overs as Ishan Kishan, Rohit Sharma and Shreyas Iyer returned for ducks and the scoreboard read a woeful 2/3.
The bold Kohli, with whom Indian fans fall in love again every day, showed the first glimpse of a comeback and unleashed an elegant shot past pacer Hazlewood, a shot worth a million dollars.
Assessing that the ball was not going towards the bat, Kohli crossed his front foot slightly and showed the entire face of the bat, instead of staying stuck at the crease.
India was not out of the woods at that point, but it seemed like nothing was happening. However, they could very well have been 12 for 4 in short order.
Kohli mistimed a Hazlewood shot but Mitchell Marsh, on shoot, failed to get properly underneath the ball as it slipped out of his hand.
Captain Rohit spoke of a bit of luck, a must in big events, and Marsh’s big mistake was exactly the touch of the green the hosts needed at that moment.
It was the respite Kohli needed and since the target was not big, he and Rahul concentrated on rebuilding the innings with singles and two.
The fact that 61 of his runs came in singles and doubles during his 116-ball knock was a testament to his fitness.
For almost 50 deliveries, he did not reach a limit until Cameron Green’s medium military rhythm was introduced: two deliveries on the platforms were scornfully cut off.
Once he reached 50 off 75 balls, Kohli pulled a slow bouncer from Pat Cummins towards deep mid-wicket.
Starc hit him on the helmet with a short delivery when Kohli was batting in the 70s. A concussion test was conducted and two balls later, a square four reiterated that ‘Batter Kohli’ cannot get flustered that easily.
Just when it looked like Kohli was marching towards his 48th ODI hundred, his departure from Hazlewood found Marnus Labuschagne.
Stylish Rahul has fun
No praise would be enough for Rahul, a man who often receives criticism for the opportunities he wastes.
But on that day, Rahul showed why he is rated so highly. On a pitch where Indian spinners dictated proceedings, Rahul literally nullified Adam Zampa with a late cut, backward cut and extra cover in a single over.
He matched Kohli blow for blow and after keeping wickets for 50 overs, Rahul batted for another 41.2 overs to prove that he is ready for each and every battle.
In fact, when he realized that Kohli could reach No. 48, he was content to take the singles and doubles until the older man got out. Rahul hit eight fours and two sixes, the second of which sealed the win.
Jadeja and the ‘CSK squad’
Earlier, Jadeja became the biggest enemy among Indian spinners on a tacky Chepauk track to clinch an easy victory.
Jadeja, who knows the track like the back of his hand, thanks to his decade-plus association with Chennai Super Kings, took 3 for 28 in 10 overs as the slowness of the surface and the subtle variations used by the all-rounder became in Australia’s downfall.
“I felt happy after seeing the track. I knew that on this track, even I wouldn’t know which delivery will spin and which delivery will go straight,” he told broadcaster Star Sports.
It was Jadeja’s show all along as he tipped the scales in India’s favor with quick dismissals from an under-pressure Steve Smith (46 off 71 balls) and an unusually restrained Labuschagne (27 off 41 balls).
Jadeja, who has dismissed Smith 10 times across formats, tricked his bunny with subtle variations.
Afraid of being trapped in front of the wicket, Smith constantly tried to keep his pads out of Jadeja’s line of deliveries.
Jadeja, who bowled at a pace of 96 to 97 kilometers per hour and did not spin much, gauged his “bunny’s” apprehension.
The next delivery Jadeja bowled was at least 5 km/h slower and the ball spun much more than usual. In his attempt to deny the leg-earlier chance, Smith did not cover the delivery that went over his bat to dislodge the bails.
Australia’s chances of a big result ended right then and there.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated channel.)
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