SYDNEY: India captain Virat Kohli led from the front with a sparkling 61 not out to help secure a series-levelling six-wicket victory over Australia in the third and final Twenty20 International on Sunday.
Chasing 165 to win, India suffered a mid-innings slump that left them needing 52 off the last five overs. Kohli combined with Dinesh Karthik, who made 22 not out, to see India home with two balls to spare at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
India got off to a blistering start as Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan collected 20 runs from the first three overs before accelerating.
They plundered 20 runs from the next over from Nathan Coulter-Nile while Marcus Stoinis bled 22 in the following over.
To stop the carnage, Aaron Finch brought back Mitchell Starc and the left-arm quick, playing his first 20-over international in more than two years, did not let his captain down, trapping Dhawan lbw for 41 to end the 67-run stand.
Adam Zampa bowled Rohit, who hit two sixes in his 23, in his maiden over and India slumped to 108-4 after K.L. Rahul and Rishabh Pant fell in successive deliveries.
Kohli added 60 with Karthik and sealed the victory with back-to-back boundaries.
“I thought overall skill-wise we were better today,” said Kohli. “When out openers get into the
zone they are difficult to stop. There were a few nervous moments in between, but [for me] it’s always easy when the guys at the top do what they do.”
Having won the toss and elected to bat, home captain Finch (28) combined with D’Arcy Short (33) to give Australia a flying start but the hosts could not make the most of it.
They added 68 runs for the opening partnership when Krunal Pandya got into the thick of the action in the ninth over. The all-rounder caught Finch at short
fine leg, before dismissing Short and Ben McDermott off successive deliveries to drag India back into the contest.
Alex Carey denied Pandya a hat-trick but eventually fell to the left-arm spinner after making 27.
Stoinis made a breezy 25 not out down the order as Australia overcame their mid-innings slump and collected 57 runs from the last five overs.
Pandya’s 4-36 was the best by a spinner in Australia in Twenty20 Internationals while Kuldeep Yadav also impressed conceding only 19 in a tidy four overs that included Finch’s wicket.
Australia, who won the rain-hit series opener in Brisbane, could not manage a single six in their innings against India’s eight.
The second match in Melbourne was washed out.
Despite losing, Finch said he was proud of the team. “The way we fought was outstanding. Still fair bit of work to do but we’re going in the right direction which is nice.”
The teams now square off in the four-Test series beginning in Adelaide on Dec 6.
D.J.M. Short lbw b Pandya 33
A.J. Finch c Pandya b Kuldeep 28
G.J. Maxwell c Sharma b Pandya 13
B.R. McDermott lbw b Pandya 0
A.T. Carey c Kohli b Pandya 27
C.A. Lynn run out 13
M.P. Stoinis not out 25
N.M. Coulter-Nile not out 13
EXTRAS (B-1, LB-2, W-9) 12
TOTAL (six wkts, 20 overs) 164
FALL OF WKTS: 1-68, 2-73, 3-73, 4-90, 5-119, 6-131.
DID NOT BAT: M.A. Starc, A.J. Tye, A. Zampa.
BOWLING: Kumar 4-0-33-0; Khaleel Ahmed 4-0-35-0 (4w); Bumrah 4-0-38-0 (1w); Kuldeep Yadav 4-0-19-1 (2w); Pandya 4-0-36-4 (1w).
R.G. Sharma b Zampa 23
S. Dhawan lbw b Starc 41
V. Kohli not out 61
K.L. Rahul c Coulter-Nile b Maxwell 14
R.R. Pant c Carey b Tye 0
K.D. Karthik not out 22
EXTRAS (LB-1, W-6) 7
TOTAL (for four wkts, 19.4 overs) 168
FALL OF WKTS: 1-67, 2-67, 3-108, 4-108.
DID NOT BAT: K.H. Pandya, B. Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav, Khaleel Ahmed, J.J. Bumrah.
BOWLING: Starc 4-0-26-1 (1w); Coulter-Nile 3-0-40-0 (1w); Stoinis 1-0-22-0 (1w); Zampa 4-1-22-1 (1w); Maxwell 4-0-25-1; Tye 3.4-0-32-1 (1w).
RESULT: India won by six wickets; three-match drawn 1-1.
UMPIRES: G.A. Abood (Australia) and P. Wilson (Australia).
TV UMPIRE: S.D. Fry (Australia).
MATCH REFEREE: J.J. Crowe (New Zealand).
MAN-OF-THE-MATCH: Krunal Pandya.
FIRST MATCH: Brisbane, Australia won by four runs (D/L Method).
SECOND MATCH: Melbourne, no result.
Published in Dawn, November 26th, 2018