Krunal Pandya tossed one up to Aaron Finch. It pitched right under Finch’s nose. Getting greedy by what he was offered, Finch swung his bat hard, aiming to clear Rohit Sharma at long-on. The ball went high, and contrary to what everyone predicted, it was not going to go all the way. Rohit ran hard and got under it. He positioned himself well but could not hold onto the catch. It was Pandya’s first delivery and could have been India’s first breakthrough. A frustrated Pandya could never gain his calm and ended up giving away 12 runs in the over.
Lucky for Rohit that the dropped catch did not cost India much. The in-form Kuldeep Yadav induced a top-edge in the very next over. Pandya, at short fine-leg, took an easy catch. Even though it wasn’t him who ended Finch’s stay, he looked ecstatic after taking the catch. It, however, boosted Pandya’s confidence. In his next over he removed D’Arcy Short and Ben McDermott off consecutive deliveries.
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Given the Indian spinners were in the thick of things, Australia pushed Chris Lynn down the order. Th strategy was spot on, but the execution went wrong. Australia lost wickets at regular intervals, as Pandya removed Glenn Maxwell and Alex Carey. He finished with figures of 4 for 36. Come to think of it, he could have had a five-wicket haul had Rohit caught Finch.
Thanks to Marcus Stoinis’ late blitz that Australia managed a respectable – if not threatening – total. India needed 165 to level the series.
Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan were in a hurry to finish the match. They went all guns blazing, stitching a 67-run partnership of a mere 33 deliveries before Starc had Dhawan LBW with a sharp yorker.
Finch employed Adam Zampa to feed on Rohit’s weakness. The leg-spinner bowled an absolute jaffa to knock over Rohit. In came KL Rahul, who along with Virat Kohli, steadied India’s ship.
Australia managed to momentarily put a lid on the runs. This forced Rahul to take on a disciplined Glenn Maxwell and give away his wicket. To make matters worse, Andrew Tye outfoxed Rishabh Pant with a slower bouncer. India lost 2 wickets in 2 balls, needing 56 off 41. At the crease were Kohli and India’s perpetual finisher Dinesh Karthik.
Kohli thus far had not taken risks. Given the rising run rate, he decided to cut loose. Influenced by his captain’s knock, Karthik too decided to play his shots. Australia were left clueless, as India chased down the target with 2 balls to spare. Both batsmen remained unbeaten, as Kohli’s scored his 19th T20I half-century while Karthik played a resolute knock of 22 off 18.
Australia164 for 6 in 20 overs (D’Arcy Short 33, Aaron Finch 28; Krunal Pandya 4 for 35) lost to India168 for 4 in 19.4 overs (Virat Kohli 61*, Shikhar Dhawan 41; Adam Zampa 1 for 22) by 6 wickets.
Player of the Match: Krunal Pandya
Player of the Series: Shikhar Dhawan