Kolkata: Left-arm spinner Kuldeep Yadav became only the third Indian to take a hat-trick as the hosts demolished Australia by 50 runs in the second ODI on Thursday, continuing their dominating run over the listless visitors.
Chasing 253 on a tricky surface, Australia once again had no answer to the guile of wrist spinners Yuzvendra Chahal (2/34) and chinaman Yadav (3/54), who struck at crucial junctures to bundle out the opposition for 202 in 43.1 overs.
With today’s memorable feat, Yadav joined Kapil Dev (1991) and Chetan Sharma (1987) in a select club of Indians who have picked up a hat-trick. The victory was also India’s eighth in a row in ODIs.
India’s sensational bowling performance came after captain Virat Kohli made a fluent 92 to take the hosts to 252 with opener Ajinkya Rahane scoring 55 at the top of the order.
Australia, who surrendered to the Indian spinners in Chennai, seemed equally helpless here with seven batsmen recording single-digit scores.
Everytime Australia tried to make their way back into the game, Indian spinners responded with a breakthrough, carrying on from the good work done by pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar (3/9) in the early overs.
Kumar made the ball talk in his opening spell, removing the dangerous David Warner and Hilton Cartwright to leave the Australians at nine for two.
Steven Smith (59) and Travis Head (39) got together to resurrect the innings, ending up with a 76-run stand. However, the left-hander flicked a full toss straight to mid-wicket to become Chahal’s first scalp and Australia found themselves under pressure again.
Glenn Maxwell (14) came out to support his captain and looked ominous straightaway, sweeping Yadav for two sixes in an over. But he too did not last long when his team needed another solid partnership.
All Australian hopes disappeared with the fall of Smith, who was holed out by deep square leg fielder off a Pandya bouncer.
Yadav joined the party by sending back Matthew Wade, Ashton Agar and Pat Cummins in as many balls to send the Eden crowd into a frenzy.
His best ball without a doubt was the hat-trick ball. The young spinner showed remarkable calm to bowl the wrong one that took a thick edge of Cummins’ bat before landing into the hands of MS Dhoni.
Yadav got through Wade’s stumps before trapping Agar in front of the stumps to be on a hat-trick.
Marcus Stoinis waged a lone battle for Australia towards the end with an unbeaten 62 of 65 balls.
Earlier, Kohli and Rahane struck sublime knocks before Australia made a strong fightback to bowl India out for 252.
Coming on to bat after the early dismissal of Rohit Sharma, Kohli looked in great touch and along with Rahane shared 102 runs off just 111 deliveries for the second wicket to set the base for the total.
Kohli laced his 107-ball knock with eight boundaries, while Rahane hit seven fours during his 64-ball innings.
The time Kohli and Rahane were at the crease India were on course for a big score but the latter’s dismissal in the 24th over opened the gates for Australia.
The visitors forged a brilliant fightback with medium pacers Nathan Coulter-Nile (3/51) and Kane Richardson (3/55) sharing the spoils on a slow Eden Gardens wicket.
Pacer Cummins (1/34) and left-arm spinner Agar (1/54) also picked up a wicket each for Australia.
Brought in place of James Faulkner, Richardson picked up the key wickets of last match heroes Mahendra Singh Dhoni (5) and Hardik Pandya (20) as India were bowled out in the last ball of the innings after they comfortably placed at 186 for three in 35 overs.
Despite Rahane’s run out, Kohli looked in full flow and along with Kedar Jadhav, who made a run-a-ball 24, added 55 runs for the fourth wicket.
However, Coulter-Nile’s twin strikes (Jadhav and Kohli) in successive overs titled the balance in favour of Australia as thereafter India just seemed to have lost the plot.
Kohli played on to be denied his 31st ODI century, while Jadhav while attempting a cut, was holed up by Glenn Maxwell.
With 15 balls remaining in the innings, a passing shower held up the game for 18 minutes with India placed at 236 for 7.
There was also an injury scare for Pandya, who was hit hard on the grill of his helmet by a shot from Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Such was the impact that Pandya lay on the ground as the Aussies also rushed to him.
India did not have the best of starts as Rohit, whose career-best scores in the all the three formats came at the Edean Gardens, had a rare blip here, falling for seven.
But the breakthrough in the sixth over hardly had any impact on India’s scheme of things with Rahane and Kohli going about their business in style.
The duo played fluently as India reached the 100-run mark in 19.5 overs.
Smith tried out different things but nothing was going Australia’s way when suddenly a runout came to their rescue as going for a second run, Rahane was caught short of the crease by Hilton Cartwright.
Manish Pandey (3) continued his lean patch and was out in a space of 21 balls, becoming Coulter-Nile’s second victim.