Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 18 February 2020

No panic from Virat Kohli as he leads India into winner-takes-all ODI clash against Australia

After winning second match by 36 runs, captain says team ignored 'panic' of fans that followed their 10-wicket thrashing in opener

India captain Virat Kohli, right, with teammate Ravindra Jadeja after beating Australia in the second ODI in Rajkot on Friday. AFP
India captain Virat Kohli, right, with teammate Ravindra Jadeja after beating Australia in the second ODI in Rajkot on Friday. AFP

Indian captain Virat Kohli insists his team are focused on ignoring the "panic" among home supporters going into the deciding one-day series clash against Australia on Sunday.

Many Indian fans were raging after Australia hammered their side by 10 wickets in the first 50 over game on Tuesday. But Kohli's team dominated Friday's second match and won by 36 runs, with opener Shikhar Dhawan hitting 96 and KL Rahul smashing 80 off 52 balls.

That helped to settle nerves and Kohli looked calm after the win in which he also made 78 in India's 340-6.

"We live in the days of social media and a panic button being pressed too early," Kohli said after the game in Rajkot.

"We know exactly what we're doing in the changing room. On the outside there's a lot of panic that we don't really focus on."

There are injury worries, though, for the game in Bangalore as Dhawan did not return to field after being hit on the rib cage by a Pat Cummins bouncer during his 90-ball knock.

Vice captain Rohit Sharma also walked off after injuring his arm diving to prevent a boundary.

"It's that left shoulder that has popped out a few times. There's no tear, so hopefully he should be back for the next game," Kohli said.

India experimented with the batting order in Mumbai but stuck with two traditional openers with Kohli at three as they saved the series.

Steve Smith stood out for Australia with his defiant 98 and stood guard with his team's new-look middle-order before chopping a Kuldeep Yadav delivery on to the stumps.

He put on a threatening 96-run third-wicket stand with Marnus Labuschagne, making his ODI debut in this series.

Smith and Labuschagne steadied Australia after David Warner (15) and Aaron Finch (33), unbeaten centurions in the opening match, fell early.

Labuschagne made 46 at No 4, and with wicketkeeper-batsman Alex Carey at No 5, Smith believes the new middle-order would take the team to the 2023 World Cup in India.

"I thought Marnus played really well in his first bat in one-day international cricket," Smith said. "He looked exceptionally good tonight. He hit the gaps hard, ran hard between the wickets and played some nice shots.

"And there's no reason why the three-four-five [batting order] can't stay as it is."

Australia were bowled out for 304 in 49.1 overs having fallen steadily behind in the run chase once Smith had gone.

"We timed our chase pretty well when we lose three wickets in between 30 and 40 overs, it halts the ability to be able to go and try and get ten an over," said Smith. "I would've liked to have batted a bit longer and been there in the happy hour."

Updated: January 18, 2020 06:56 PM

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