Talking Points: Kohli’s 40th, Jadeja’s bullet, Shankar’s redemption

Spurred by a splendid 116 from Virat Kohli in the first half and some terrific death-overs bowling from Jasprit Bumrah and Vijay Shankar in the final passages of the second ODI, India edged Australia by eight runs in Nagpur on Tuesday. (READVirat Kohli, Jasprit Bumrah star as India beat Australia in thriller)

Despite a brave 54 from Marcus Stoinis, Australia lost three wickets for ten runs in the backend of their chase to go down 0-2 in the series.

Here are five talking points from the game:

Kohli closes gap on Tendulkar

At the toss, after Aaron Finch opted to field, Kohli said it was a “no-brainer” to bat first while predicting that the Nagpur track would deteriorate as the day progressed. In quick time, he found himself at the crease after Rohit Sharma bagged his first ODI duck in over a year and as wickets continued to fall in clusters, Kohli called on his reservoir of experience to craft a superb 116 off 120 that has taken him to within nine hundreds of matching Sachin Tendulkar’s once-mythical record of 49.

On a turning surface on which India lost wickets in cluster, Kohli embedded himself to bat from the second over to the 48th while scoring nearly half of India’s runs.

His hundred was the difference in the end, helping India to 250 which proved to be just enough. Of Kohli’s 40 ODI hundreds, 32 have come in Indian wins.

Virat Kohli scored 116 off 120 balls, his 40th ODI century, to set up victory
Virat Kohli scored 116 off 120 balls, his 40th ODI century, to set up India’s 500th ODI victory. © AFP

Vijay the batsman makes a splash

Shankar, the seam-bowling allrounder from Tamil Nadu, has displayed proof of his batting prowess in New Zealand when in his first innings in ODIs he scored a solid 45 to help Ambati Rayudu lead India’s recovery. His second innings came in Nagpur, when he earned a promotion ahead of MS Dhoni and Kedar Jadhav.

Shankar’s breezy 46, an innings that matched Kohli’s for effervescence, was the second best contribution to India’s innings of 250 and promises plenty more before he was run out. India were 75/3 when he joined Kohli, and while most others struggled against spin, Shankar batted beautifully in a stand of 81.

Standing tall and using the depth of his crease very well, he worked the ball off his pads to manufacture singles and the occasional boundary. He drove down the ground well, with one flowing shot off Coulter-Nile particularly eye-catching. To Stoinis’ inviting medium pace, Shankar lofted four and six in one over to speed to 40 from 36 balls. However, against the run of play, it was a firmly struck shot from Kohli that Adam Zampa deflected off his fingers to run out Shankar at the non-strikers’ end. He made 46 off 41 balls.

Jadeja’s bullet arm

Chasing 251, Australia were given a start of 83 in 14.3 overs from Finch (37) and Usman Khawaja (38) before both fell to spin in successive overs. Shaun Marsh and Glenn Maxwell’s dismissals saw Australia slip to 132/4, but a solid partnership between Stoinis and Peter Handscomb began to brew. Handscomb, in particular, was timing the ball well and repeatedly sweeping and paddling the spinners off their lines. (READ: Jadeja third Indian to 2000 runs, 150 wickets)

He got to a fluent 48 before a stunning piece of fielding turned the chase around. He pushed the ball in front of point and hesitantly took off, which proved a poor judgement call. Ravindra Jadeja, hawk-like, swooped on the ball, collected it and nailed a superb direct hit to run out Handscomb.

That wicket proved a turning point.

Jasprit Bumrah's double-strike in the 46th over turned the tables.
Jasprit Bumrah’s double-strike in the 46th over turned the tables. © AFP

Who ya gonna call? Bumrah

He’s not the No 1-ranked bowler in ODIs without reason. With Australia needing 29 runs from 30 balls, Kohli called on Bumrah and the result was two wickets in the 46th over. Coulter-Nile was bowled when attempting to run the ball down to third man and Pat Cummins swished and got a faint nick to Dhoni. Australia had lost three wickets for 10 runs, including Kuldeep Yadav’s extraction of Alex Carey.

With 21 to defend off 18 balls, Bumrah signed off by bowling five dots to Stoinis in the 48th over. A spell of 2-0-2-2 in a tense match such as this was just brilliant, and after the win Kohli duly credited his ‘champion’ strike bowler.

Vijay’s redemption

Before Tuesday, Shankar had bowled 114 deliveries in ODIs without a wicket. In Hyderabad, his three overs went for 22. In Nagpur, he came on as second change and conceded 13 runs. Kohli did not call on him again, until with 11 to defend off the final over of the game. It was a risk, but one that paid off.

First ball, Stoinis heaved and missed and was given lbw. He reviewed, but in vain. Shankar, after 120 balls bowled in ODIs, had claimed his first wicket. Two balls later he had a second when he yorked Nathan Lyon to end the game. (READ: I was waiting for this opportunity: Vijay Shankar)

The man who had been vilified on social media a year ago for a laborious innings in a T20I, was now being cheered across the globe.