A captain’s innings from Rohit Sharma helped India beat Australia by six wickets in Nagpur in their second T20I. It means that the series is now level, with the final and deciding match to be played in Hyderabad on Sunday.
Unfortunately the crowd were denied seeing a full match, with rain reducing the game eight over a side game. Nevertheless, having come in for more than their fair share of criticism after defeat in the first game in Mohali, India will be glad to be back on equal terms with their opponents again.
The weather was not kind to players and fans alike, with it having rained the whole day in Nagpur and other regions of Maharashtra, with some areas of the ground sodden even after the rain stopped. At one stage, with the start delayed, there were fears that no play at all might be possible, but conditions improved to allow an eight over a side game.
Winning the toss this became doubly important because the team batting second could really chase down any target aggressively, knowing they had wickets in hand. And so it proved, with India the beneficiaries on this occasion.
Although Aaron Finch led form the front for Australia, making 31, two wickets in the second over of the innings, bowled by Axar Patel, pinned the tourists back, and they soon slumped to 46/4, before Matthew Wade, who had played his part in their first T20I win, again injected some momentum into their batting, making 43 off just 20 balls, including 3 sixes.
It meant that Australia were able to post a total of 90/5 from their allotted overs.
In reply, India made a rapid start, scoring three sixes off the first over, with Sharma leading by example.
The loss of three big wickets – KL Rahul, Virat Kohli and Suryakumar Yadav in the space of ten balls – helped keep things interesting, but Hardik Pandya helped steady the ship, and Dinesh Karthik then put the result beyond doubt, with a two ball cameo which featured a six and a four.
Rohit was unbeaten at the close on 46, as India reached their target with four balls to spare.
Key talking points
Rohit’s new record
Rohit’s innings contained 4 sixes, a new world record for T20 internationals. He had previously shared the record of 172 with New Zealander Martin Guptill, but he is now out on his own.
It had been more than two months since Jasprit Bumrah had played a T20I due to his ongoing back problems and was rested for the West Indies tour, but, having now been passed fit again, he was surprisingly left out of the side for the first match.
However, he reminded everybody of what they had been missing, taking responsibility of bowling the death overs, a weak area for India in recent games. Not only did he account for Finch when he was starting to really open his shoulders, but he helped lift the mood of those around him.
He was well complemented by Axar Patel, who used the width of the crease well to angle the ball in to the batters, helping to deceive them with his slower pace.
However, Harshal Patel, who conceded 49 in the first match was again expensive, whilst Yuzvendra Chahal’s one over cost him 12 runs.
Other team selections
Bumrah came in for this match in place of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who had come in for heavy criticism after leaking so many runs in the first match. The other change to the side was to restore Rishabh Pant to the team and hand him the wicketkeeper’s gloves, with the veteran Umesh Yadav dropping out.
In the event, the circumstances of the match meant that he did not get to bat, and it is no clearer if his inclusion is permanent or just another experiment. It means that the debate is likely to rage on with Indian supporters a while longer as to their best XI for the World Cup.
Australia will not panic
Australia will not panic after this loss, and may point to the fact that had it been 20 overs a side the result might have been very different. Plus points for them were the continued form of Wade, whilst Finch will be glad to get some runs under his belt.
And Pat Cummins was his usual effective self with the bat. Josh Hazlewood, the number one T20I bowler in the world, did not have a good night, conceding 20 runs off his one over. But everybody is entitled to have the odd bad day at the office!
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