Finesse & finish in series win
India earned themselves a huge boost ahead of the Tests Down Under as they wrapped up the T20I series in style, vanquishing Australia by six wickets in the second game of the three-match series to take an unassailable 2-0 lead.
While Virat Kohli’s men had defended smartly in the first match, on Sunday they mastered the chase, powered by Hardik Pandya’s superb finishing skills.
Set a challenging 195-run target, India reached home in 19.4 overs to register their third win of the tour on the trot, which was also the team’s 10th successive victory away from home in T20 internationals.
Needing 25 off the final 12 balls after fetching 12 in the 18th over, Pandya brought the equation down to 14 in the last over with two fours. The all-rounder then hit two sixes to seal the match in India’s favour and also claim the Man of the Match award.
Pandya remained unconquered on 42 off 22 balls. That was after India got off to a good start with Shikhar Dhawan (52 off 36 balls) and KL Rahul (30 off 22 balls) gaining an upper hand over an inexperienced Australian attack.
Debutant Daniel Sams gave the hosts their biggest breakthrough when he had Virat Kohli caught behind for a well-made 24-ball 40, but with Hardik on song, the Aussies lost their grip on the match.
Earlier, stand-in skipper Matthew Wade led from the front with a blistering half-century and powered Australia to a strong total. Leading the side in the absence of an injured Aaron Finch, Wade smashed 58 off 32 balls while Steve Smith made a breezy 38-ball 46 after India opted to field. For the visitors, T. Natarajan once again impressed with figures of 2/20 in his four-over spell.
Kohli, proud captain
India would get more marks for the series win because they dominated even without Rohit Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah. Australia too do not have David Warner and they missed Aaron Finch and Mitchell Starc as well on Sunday, but India still deserve praise simply because wins don’t come easy in Australian conditions.
“We’ve played as a team in T20 cricket. The fact that we don’t have Rohit and Bumrah, our established white-ball players, and we are still doing well makes me happy and I am very proud of this team,” captain Kohli said at the post-match presentation.
Kohli also credited the IPL for making India a formidable T20 outfit. “(Almost) everyone has played at least 14 games (in the IPL) recently, so they know what their plans are.”