Our bowlers forced Australia to be 35-40 runs short, says Kohli


India skipper Virat Kohli felt that his bowlers delivered at the cruch time towards the late overs of Australian innings to give them a crucial advantage as the hosts won the third One-Day International (ODI) by five wickets here on Sunday.

Indian bowlers struggled for the better part of the innings, thanks to opening batsman Aaron Finch’s 124 and Steve Smith’s 63 but they fought back later to not allow Australia get a big score. Australia scored 293 for six in 50 overs.

Left-arm wrist spinner (chinaman) Kuldeep Yadav ended the 154-run second-wicket partnership between Finch and Smith by removing the former in the fifth delivery of the 38th over, with the scoreboard at 224/2. Four overs later, Smith danced down the track to hit Kuldeep to the hands of Jasprit Bumrah in the 42nd over — much to the relief of the Indian camp.

Then, India pulled things under control and picked wickets at regular intervals to peg back the visitors.

Chahal dismissed Glenn Maxwell (5) after the right-handed batsman advanced outside the crease only to miss the wide ball before being stumped by Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

Later, pacer Bumrah removed Travis Head (4) and Peter Handscomb (3) to ensure that Australia struggled in scoring quick runs.

“They batted really well, but we knew that if we get two, three wickets, we could pull it back. I was thinking this was a 330-wicket. The bowlers stood up when we wanted them to,” Kohli said.

“I felt they were 35-40 runs short. That gave us a lot of confidence. To give away 90-odd runs in the last 16 overs was a very good job,” the captain added.

“(In batting) Rohit (Sharma) and (Ajinkya) Rahane were very good and then Hardik Pandya, only he can do what he does when he bats like that.”

Rohit (71), Rahane (70), Hardik (78) and Manish Pandey (36 not out) contributed handsomely with the bat as India won with 2.1 overs to spare.

The spin pair of Kuldeep and leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal, who had tormented the visitors in the first two ODIs, also came under pressure from Smith and Finch but the slow bowlers managed to pick crucial wickets.

“Wrist spinners need to be backed. They possess the ability to pick up wickets. If they go for 15-20 runs extra and pick couple of wickets, I won’t mind — it is very good in ODI cricket,” Kohli said, backing the young spinners.

With the win at the Holkar Stadium, India have taken an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five-match series.

Kohli hinted that he may give opportunities to the players who were not picked in the first three ODIs.

“We may give opportunities for people from now, but all 15 guys know that we got to be ruthless once we step onto the field. I know it won’t happen every single day, but at least that mindset is there, which is great to see,” he said.