Former Indian skipper Virat Kohli and KL Rahul dug deep to take the team over the line in their ICC World Cup 2023 encounter against Australia in Chennai on Sunday.
After bundling the Australian innings for a paltry 199 with a superb bowling display, it looked like an easy chase. However, the surface showed its colours as Australia came right back in dismissing the top order of the Indian lineup.
However, Kohli (85) and Rahul (97*) took India home, and comfortably in the end after the shaky start to the run chase to win the match by six wickets.
Earlier, Australia had won the toss and elected to bat first. However, they were never really allowed to settle down by the brilliant bowling attack of India.
Opener Mitchell Marsh was dismissed early after which David Warner and Steve Smith took it upon themselves to steady the innings. They managed to do so to some extent before Warner was dismissed by Kuldeep Yadav with Australia on 74 for the loss of two wickets.
However, from there on, India slowed down the Australian innings not allowing the batters to settle and find the boundaries that would give the team a lift.
Yadav combined with Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin to run through the Australian middle order as Jasprit Bumrah picked up two wickets and Mohammed Siraj and Hardik Pandya dismissing a batter each.
In the end, Australia could not bat out their quota of 50 overs, getting all-out with three balls remaining. Smith top scored with 46 runs followed by Warner with 42 runs. Apart from Mitchell Starc's 28 and Marnus Labuschagne's 27, there were not many notable contributions from the others as Australia set India a target of 200 runs to win in their 50 overs.
After doing their part with the ball, India thought to wrap up the match easily. However, Australia were not going to give up easily, as they tormented the top order of the men in blue. All of Rohit Sharma, Ishan Kishan and Shrayas Iyer were dismissed without scoring a run.
From there on, KL Rahul alongside Virat Kohli took control of the state of affairs with the aim of steadying the ship. Both batters faced every ball sensibly scoring runs wherever possible.
Kohli scored 85 runs before being sent packing by Josh Hazlewood. Labuschagne took a straightforward catch. Kohli was left disappointed and it showed on his face.
Even with Kohli gone and a new batter in Hardik Pandya on the pitch, KL Rahul carried on with the offensive. He even went very close to completing his century in the match and picked up the man of the match award for it.
Rahul had looked to play it on the off for a boundary and then go for a six with five runs needed for the win, however, his effort instead went for a maximum leaving him hanging on 97 runs!
Meanwhile, Pandya ended the match on 11 runs. For Australia, Josh Hazlewood got three wickets, while Mitchell Starc got one. However, as Kohli and Rahul took the match away from them, they could only watch on.
In the end, India picked up the win to get their World Cup campaign up and running. The way KL Rahul and Virat Kohli batted to take India over the line from three wickets down with two runs on the board, will give the team some confidence.