Team India, without their T-20 established players Rohit Sharma and Jaspreet Bumrah who are nursing injuries, put up a brave show to take unassailable lead in three game T-20 series here today. While Natrajan once again proved his utility as one of the most economical medium pacer in the shortest format of the game, Hardik Pandya too carried his form where he left it in just concluded ODI series which India lost 1-2. Team India won 2nd T-20 by six wickets.
Australia, put in to bat after India won the toss, posted a very good score of 195, losing five wickets in 20 overs. However, opener K.L. Rahul and Shekhar Dhawan gave tourist a flying start by adding 56 runs in 5.2 over for the 1st wicket. Rahul (30) was the first to depart when he became Tye’s only victim. Dhawan and captain Virat Kohli kept the momentum going and added 39 runs. After completing his half century Dhawan (52) too departed. That left the entire unus on Kohli and Sanju Sampson but Sampson (15) did not last long.
After Kohli (40) was consumed by Sams, it was left to Hardik Pandya and Shreyas Aiyer to see their team home. Hardik (42 n.o) finished the game in the last over with a six over long on. He was declared player of the match.
Earlier, The Australians were led by Mathew Wade in the absence of Aaron Finch due to injury, and he led from the front with a swift half-century at the top of the order. But the remainder of the Australian innings was spasmodic, and without any of Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood or Mitchell Starc, the bowling attack was well and truly below the usual level of expertise.
Wade made the most obvious captain’s call available to him – promoting himself to the top of the order and the role in which he had been so dominant for the Hobart Hurricanes in the BBL. There was an international basis for the decision – Wade’s only score beyond 50 had been as an opener against India as far back as 2012, also at the SCG.
In Canberra on Friday, Wade had looked somewhat lost in the middle order, an experience not uncommon to his T20I career. But at the top he was able to dictate terms, and the boundaries followed almost as if by clockwork through a more tightly packed new-ball field. Wade’s crisp striking to kick off the innings gave the Australians a supercharged start, and his progress to 58 gave him some truly striking numbers as a T20I opener. How much more often he gets the chance remains to be seen.
After Wade (58) the remainder of the innings was overall a failure to fulfill Wade’s early promise, as Steven Smith could not quite find his timing, Glenn Maxwell did not hang around long enough to do genuine damage, and the late contributions of Moises Henriques and Sams were cameos rather than definitive exclamation points on the innings. All the while, the hosts and the visitors knew that Australia had a severely weakened bowling attack with which to defend their tally.
For India, Natrajan was the most successful bowler, taking two wickets and conceding just 20 runs in his four over spell.
After the game Kohli said, “we played really well as a team in T20 cricket. The fact that two of our established players are not playing and to win like this, makes me very proud of this team, Everyone has played 14 games recently (in the IPL) and they know their plans. Natarajan was outstanding and Shardul was good today. Hardik finishing off the game and Shikhar getting that fifty, it’s a whole team effort. The reason for him to come into our team in 2016 was pure abililty, he now realizes that this is the time to establish in that role and play match-winning knocks for us. He plays with all his heart and he certainly got that competitive nature about him and also has the skill to execute that at the highest level. That’s (next game) gonna be very exciting. In the tough moments, when so many people backing you, the next game is going to be exciting, It was a bit of funny moment, I will sent AB a text tonight and see how he’ll respond.”
Disappointer rival captain Matthew Wade said, “It was good fun. lot more fun till Hardik came out. May be a little bit short with the bat. Unfortunately we didn’t execute well towards the end with the ball. When you get a start like that you want to push but I was disappointed with the way I got out and the timing of my wicket as well. Zampa has been outstanding for the last few years. We just couldn’t execute it well in the end.”