As anticipated, India’s brittle bowling resources failed to prevent Australia’s batting might from chasing down even a 200-plus target and winning the first T20I match at the PCA Stadium here on Tuesday.
After a late blitzkrieg by Hardik Pandya and his 6, 6, 6, finish to an unbeaten 71 took India to 208 for six, Australia reached the target with four wickets and four deliveries to spare.
Briefly, India looked in with a chance when three wickets fell in the space of 17 balls to leave Australia at 145 for five in 14.1 overs.
It was Umesh Yadav’s second over that saw two DRS-aided decisions of caught behind against Steve Smith and danger-man Glenn Maxwell which brought India back into the game. But the chase regained momentum with Matthew Wade (45 n.o., 21b, 6x4, 2x6) getting into the act.
After Bhuvneshwar conceded 15 runs, including three wides, Wade hit two sixes off Harshal in an over that went for 22 runs in which the bowler dropped a return catch. Wade then smashed three successive fours in a 16-run penultimate over from Bhuvneshwar (0/52) to bring down the equation to just two off the final over.
The foundation of the chase was laid by openers Cameron Green (61 off 30) and Aaron Finch (22, 13b, 3x4, 1x6).
When India batted, the cheap dismissals of Rohit Sharma (11, 9b, 1x4, 1x6) and Virat Kohli (2, 7b) did not hurt India since K.L. Rahul (55, 35b, 4x4, 3x6), Suryakumar Yadav (46, 25b, 2x4, 4x6) and eventually, Hardik (71 n.o., 30b, 7x4, 5x6) maintained high strike rates.
In fact, 14 overs produced double-digit scores as the Indians smashed 16 boundaries and 13 sixes.
Significanly, the flourish of Hardik was much needed, considering how often India has failed to build on the gains of the first 10 overs.
Rahul smashed a 32-ball half-century with three sixes and as many boundaries. However, he tried to swing over the deep square fielder but could not beat Nathan Ellis, the man whose catch had sent back Rohit in the third over.
Soon, Suryakumar smashed two successive sixes to end Zampa’s spell. Hardik welcomed Green with a six to start the 14th over. But Suryakumar departed in the same over.
Though Axar Patel, who later took three for 17, and Dinesh Karthik could not contribute much.
Hardik, however, took charge and belted the bowlers all over. Hardik saved his best for the last as three sixes landed in different parts of the ground: a flat-batted six over midwicket, the next over long-off and the third one over the point boundary to cap the innings. However, it did not prove enough.