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Buoyant India cruise to series win

January 29th, 2016 | by admin
Buoyant India cruise to series win
Australia
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India 3 for 184 (Rohit 60, Kohli 59) beat Australia 8 for 157 (Finch 74, Jadeja 2-32, Bumrah 2-37) by 27 runs

India’s first series victory of any kind in Australia since the summer of Monkeygate is proving an unmitigated disaster for the hosts, who now face real uncertainty over their captaincy. Aaron Finch twanged a hamstring as his side fell apart under the pressure of a chase for the second time in as many matches.

The game evolved in a near action replay of the opening match in Adelaide, as Australia were unable to capitalise on a strong start by Finch and Shaun Marsh in pursuit of a strong Indian total built upon the batting of Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli.

Steven Smith and David Warner are set to fly to New Zealand on Saturday, leaving a considerable leadership vacuum should Finch be unfit for the third T20 in Sydney on Sunday. His likely absence may at least mean an opportunity for Usman Khawaja, the outstanding batsman of the summer so far.

India’s serenity made for a marked contrast, as an unchanged team from Adelaide built steadily into a firm tally batting first before defending it grandly with the help of some tremendous fielding. Ravindra Jadeja and R Ashwin were aided by Yuvraj Singh, while the medically-enforced absence of Darren Lehmann appears to have been felt in the way the Australians have shown little composure under pressure.

As had been the case in Adelaide, Australia’s openers began with fluency and power, this time zooming to 94 inside 10 overs. However, the introduction of spin had again drawn chances, as Marsh and Finch (thrice) were both reprieved by MS Dhoni and his outfielders.

Oddly, Marsh responded to the surfeit of good fortune by trying his luck yet again against R Ashwin and being caught at long on. Chris Lynn did not last long, skying Hardik Pandya to be taken safely by Dhoni, before Glenn Maxwell was lured down by Yuvraj and stumped in the blink of an eye by India’s captain.

Momentum was now flowing to India just as surely as it had done in the opening match, and Jadeja turned it into a torrent by holding a return catch from Shane Watson that may have struck him in the head without a brilliant interception. At the other end Finch’s frustration was mounting despite his own strong effort.

This all compounded in the very next over when Matthew Wade called his captain through for a single so rapid that Jadeja’s wide throw was good enough to have Dhoni breaking the stumps in time. On his way down the pitch, Finch appeared to ping a hamstring, and cursed the world as he hobbled off the field, his place in future plans now under a cloud to rank with any that hovered over Melbourne this afternoon.

The rest was academic – Wade hit out by way of contrition, James Faulkner was unluckily out when Dhoni fumbled onto the wicket for an accidental stumping, and the run rate blew out to dimensions that quietened a healthy crowd of 58,787. They went home aware that Australia’s problems are mounting, while Indian plans fall usefully into place.

In addition to Warner and Smith, Travis Head, Cameron Boyce, Shaun Tait and Kane Richardson were dropped in the biggest upheaval to an Australian side since another T20 series, against West Indies in early 2013.

In their places were Tye, Maxwell, John Hastings, Scott Boland and Nathan Lyon. Hastings, Lyon and Tye made their T20 debuts as the selectors experimented ahead of the World T20 in India.

In the absence of Tait, it was a lower velocity pairing of Watson and John Hastings who shared the new ball, but the change of pace did not serve to diminish India’s Powerplay strength. Forty-four from the first five overs was a fine start from Rohit and Shikhar Dhawan,

A greasy night following considerable rain in Melbourne throughout the day was always going to make Lyon’s night challenging, and his first T20 over was to be his only one for the night. It was hurt badly by one ball that slipped, a high full toss being called no-ball and the free hit being deposited well over long on by Rohit.

Maxwell was also sent into the stands by Rohit, but he was to claim the wicket of Shikhar when the opener essayed a reverse sweep. That wicket left India 1 for 97 after 11 overs, and they were unable to accelerate full from there.

This had little to do with Kohli, who careered to 59 from 33 balls with some shots of matchless mastery, and more to do with an improved collective effort from the hots at the back end. Rohit lost some of his earlier momentum before being run out looking for a second, and Dhoni was not quite able to free his arms before Tye had him taken at long off as part of a generally impressive last over.

If anything, Tye’s quietly assured display is the greatest discovery for Australia in the series so far. Bolstered by Big Bash League exposure, he looks capable of landing his yorkers under international pressure. By the end of the night, Tye was the selectors’ only solace – the match and series plaudits were all India’s, a feeling they last enjoyed in Australia after the triangular ODI series of early 2008.

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