Report: India vs Australia – T20I
Yuvraj Singh is back! Those gorgeous heaves over mid-wicket while down on one knee, that fit, athletic body and that fire in the eyes – it seemed like Yuvraj Singh had turned back time 10 years. He marked his comeback into the Indian team with an incredible 77 off 35 balls to seal an unlikely win for India in the only T20I against Australia in Rajkot.
Chasing a mammoth 202, India had gotten into jail by losing wickets at regular intervals. Then came the saviours – Yuvraj and MS Dhoni – and rescued the team with an unbeaten 102-run partnership off 51 balls for the fifth wicket. As a result, India won by six wickets with two balls to spare.
India’s chase began on a jittery note, losing Rohit Sharma in the second over. Clint McKay bowled full outside off-stump and got it to seam away. Sharma wet for a wild waft and handed a simple catch to the ‘keeper. The wicket was set up by Shane Watson’s brilliant first over in which he troubled Sharma with similar deliveries.
Shikhar Dhawan (32 off 19 balls) and Suresh Raina (19 off 13 balls) held fort for a while, before the latter was done in by a short ball from Nathan Coulter-Nile. Dhawan went on for a while, feasting on the short balls served to him. He departed when Haddin stumped him off Xavier Doherty in the ninth over.
Virat Kohli went back into the hut after grafting 29 runs off 22 balls, giving McKay his second wicket. With 102 runs needed off 59 balls, MS Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh came together in the middle. Like they have done innumerable times, the duo complemented each other to put India’s chase back on track.
While Dhoni rotated the strike, Yuvraj went big. The comeback man exhibited his trademark elegant heaves on the on-side. McKay was clubbed for two consecutive sixes and a four in the 14th over before Coulter-Nile was hit for two graceful fours on the off-side. Then, in the 17th over, Yuvraj played the shot of the match. James Faulkner pitched one on good length on middle and off-stump line. Yuvraj picked it ad lofted it straight over the bowler’s head. It landed just behind the sightscreen and brought up a 25-ball 50 for the left-hander.
Earlier, having put in to bat by India, the Australian openers got off to a rollicking start, scoring boundaries at will. Such was their onslaught that MS Dhoni called upon four bowlers to bowl the first four overs. The left-right combo put up 50 runs in 4.1 overs.
After the powerplay, the visitors were 74/1, with 14 fours and a six. Debutant Nick Maddinson was the man dismissed, clean bowled by a quick and full Bhuvneshwar Kumar delivery. His partner Aaron Finch, however, carried on his stupendous T20 form – in his last T20I match he slammed 156 against England – to post 89 in 52 balls.
Finch was in destructive mode from the first over itself, when he cover-drove Bhuvneshwar on the up for a four. In the third over, off Ashwin, he played a square-cut, a back-foot punch and another cover-drive to fetch three more fours.
After Maddinson, though, Finch struggled for support at the other end. Shane Watson walked back for six, after being adjudged lbw off a Vinay Kumar length delivery. Skipper George Bailey was caught in the deep for a duck, giving Vinay a double-strike in the eighth over.
Then, Glenn Maxwell walked out in the middle. After playing a couple of quiet balls, he unleashed the big shots, against Ashwin, creaming him for a four and three sixes in the 10th over. The ball went sailing over long-on and midwicket. Ashwin gave away 41 runs in his two overs and didn’t bowl again.
Maxwell’s cameo ended at 27 (13 balls) when Ishant Sharma took a fine balancing catch on the rope off Ravindra Jadeja’s bowling. Brad Haddin’s (5) stay at the wicket was brief, as he gave an easy catch to Dhoni, trying to cut a Bhuvneshwar delivery that was too close to the body.
Wickets falling around him didn’t bother Finch one bit and he continued to lord over the Indian bowlers. Ishant was bludgeoned for three fours in the 16th over. His brilliant knock ended in an anticlimax when Vinay took a return catch in the next over. The medium pacer was the pick of the Indian bowlers with three wickets for 26 runs in four overs. Bhuvneshwar (4-0-35-3) and Jadeja (4-0-23-1) were the other wicket-takers for India.
Man of the Match: Yuvraj Singh for his 35-ball 77 not-out (8 fours, 5 sixes)