Kohli hails Rahul and Dhawan as India fend off Australia to square series

By Sports Desk January 17, 2020

Virat Kohli hailed KL Rahul's contribution as India beat Australia in Rajkot to level their ODI series at 1-1 and set up a decider on Sunday.

Wicketkeeper-batsman Rahul scored a rapid 80 and had three dismissals behind the stumps as India scored a 36-run victory, defending a total of 340-6 by bowling out Australia for 304.

Rahul moved from number three to five in the batting order, with captain Kohli nudging up to three, as India adjusted their line-up after a 10-wicket thumping in the opening game of the series.

Kohli said: "I think it's very important to figure out what is the best team you can put on the park and when someone's batting as well as KL was batting today, it's very difficult to leave someone like that out.

"Batting at number five and batting like that for the team, this is probably the best he's played at international level according to me. That knock showed maturity and class.

"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."

Kohli made 78, sharing a 103-run partnership for the second wicket with Shikhar Dhawan, whose 96 helped anchor the innings.

"Back to three was good for the team so I'm happy from that point of view that it helped the team," Kohli said.

Paying tribute to Dhawan, Kohli added: "In ODI cricket, he's been one of our most consistent performers. When he plays well it's a good sign for the team. I'm very happy that he scored runs as well. It always augurs well when Rohit [Sharma] and Shikhar both score runs."

Australia's ODI skipper Aaron Finch accepted his side had allowed India to put too many runs on the board.

"Yes, probably, but they played very well," Finch said.

"The whole way through the innings, we were probably one wicket shy of where we really needed to be to contain them at the back end and on an outfield like this with a good wicket and world-class players it can be hard to stop no matter what attack you've got."

Steve Smith's 98 kept Australia in touch, and Marnus Labuschagne made 46 in his first ODI innings, but Australia folded in the closing overs.

Ahead of the series decider in Bengaluru, Finch sent a message to his team, saying: "You just have to make sure that when you get in, you capitalise and you go really big.

"That's probably the area where we were slightly off tonight with the bat, just one wicket too many down as the run rate kept going up."

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