Australia 121 for 0 (Marsh 66*, Head 51*) beat India 117 (Kohli 31, Starc 5-53, Abbott 3-23) by 10 wickets
Mitchell Starc produced a masterclass in new-ball swing bowling before openers Mitchell Marsh and Travis Head hammered rapid fifties to complete a knockout performance against India and level the series 1-1. India received a thrashing like no other in Visakhapatnam – their heaviest defeat in terms of balls remaining – when they were bowled out for 117 in just 26 overs.
Starc was the tormentor in chief with his 5 for 53, his ninth five-for in ODIs, and gave Marsh and Head freedom to bat with no scoreboard pressure; Marsh raced to 28-ball fifty before Head got to his in 29 balls and Australia chased the target down in just 11 overs.
Starc got deliveries to swing in as well as angle across to the right-hand batters in equal measure. His work up top allowed Sean Abbott and Nathan Ellis to join hands and run through the lower middle order thereafter. In all, the Australian bowlers were done with their shift inside two hours and 20 minutes, with the three seamers sharing all ten wickets.
When Starc got the deliveries to angle across, he tempted Shubman Gill and Rohit Sharma to drive away from their bodies, only for both to get dismissed cheaply. Gill was the first to go, out for a duck in the first over, when he chased a full and wide delivery and drove to point, in what was a repeat of his dismissal from the Mumbai ODI. Rohit, returning to the side in place of Ishan Kishan, was out in the fifth over. He had had moved to 13 by relying on leg-side flicks, but then swung big against a wide ball to edge to first slip.
Suryakumar Yadav walked in looking to make up for his first-ball duck from the first ODI, but he suffered the same fate when Starc swing the ball into him again, and had him lbw for another golden duck. In what was another repeat from the first ODI, KL Rahul came in trying to survive a hat-trick delivery. He did that successfully, but could not last too much longer. The half-centurion from the previous game was also trapped lbw by Starc, on 9, with another inswinging delivery that got him missing a shot across the line.
At 48 for 4, India needed a recovery job, but that wouldn’t come. Abbott got a length ball to bounce a bit more and Hardik Pandya poked at it only to see Steven Smith take a stunning one-handed diving catch at first slip to rock them further. Virat Kohli and Ravindra Jadeja tried to resurrect the innings, but they failed as well this time. Kohli was trapped lbw by Ellis when, on 31, he swiped across the line to a full ball, and didn’t bother reviewing the on-field decision. Ellis then came around the wicket to get Jadeja edging a catch to the wicketkeeper Alex Carey. At 91 for 7, India were on the mat and the crowd was completely silenced.
That India reached triple-digits was because of Axar Patel’s unbeaten 29. He was circumspect at first alongside Kuldeep Yadav as India went past 100. But when Kuldeep and Mohammad Shami fell in quick succession to Abbott, Axar realised the end was coming soon. He smacked Starc for back-to-back sixes but ran out of partners as No. 11 Mohammed Siraj became Starc’s fifth victim after seeing his off stump rattled.
Marsh and Head thwarted India’s hopes of staging any kind of fightback. While Head’s 30-ball 51 was dominant when taken in isolation, it almost paled in comparison to Marsh’s 66 off 36 balls.
When the full deliveries from Siraj and Shami were put away in the initial burst of overs, both bowlers tried to go short. The openers were equally competent to the short ball, and made use of the day’s best batting conditions just before sunset.
Marsh pulled, drove and punched his way to his second straight fifty after his 81 in the first ODI. Head’s boundaries were more streaky but the highlight was his four consecutive fours against Shami in the sixth over soon after Australia had crossed 50. Marsh also launched three sixes in a Hardik over before finishing the game in the 11th.
The ODI series now moves to the decider in Chennai on Wednesday. After the way they have put India’s batters in trouble in these two games, Australia will quietly think they go into the final game as favourites.
Sreshth Shah is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @sreshthx