The men in blue registered their 10 successive T20I victories on Sunday as they beat Australia in the 2nd T20I of the three-match series. Virat Kohli and Co thus bagged the T20I series, credits to Hardik Pandya and T Natarajan. A scintillating show with the bat from the all-rounder Hardik saw India chase down a target of 195 with 2 balls remaining. His blistering cameo befittingly made him the hero of the match.
The hosts locked their horns in the 2nd T20I at the Sydney Cricket Ground without their ace pacer Mitchell Starc and captain Aaron Finch. Mathew Wade announced as the captain gave the Aussies a blockbuster of a start. Batting alongside D Arcy Short, Wade pummelled the Indian bowlers all across the ground to bring up his half-century in just 25 balls. Despite losing the wicket of Short early, Steven Smith, Glenn Maxwell, and Moises Henriques kept the run rate ticking.
It was India’s newcomer T Natarajan who gave the first breakthrough in the 5th over. Wade (58 off 32) followed him in the 9th over after a mix up in the pitch and getting run out. Smith (46 off 38) and Maxwell (22 off 13) made sure the visitors didn’t get easy pickings. Despite slowing down in the middle overs, cameos from Marcus Stoinis and Daniel Sams helped Australia post a hefty total of 194.
Incoming Yuzvendra Chahal (1/51), last match’s most economical bowler Washington Sundar (0/35), Slower ball experts Shardul Thakur (1/39), and Deepak Chahar (0/48) all turned out to be expensive in terms of economy. Only Natarajan kept his economy to 5. He returned with 2 wickets conceding just 20 from 4 overs.
Coming out to bat, India got off the mark slowly. KL Rahul (30 off 22) and Shikhar Dhawan tuned in to their beats from the 3rd over as they scalped the hosts for 14 and 19 runs in consecutive overs. Rahul, however, departed after mistiming a slower ball from AJ Tye. Dhawan, along with captain Virat Kohli made sure the required run rate does not climb too high. With a strike rate of 144.44 Dhawan (52 off 36) picked up his fifty before getting out in the 12th over. Kohli had to take the charge and he did. His 40 off 24 brought India near the reach of the target. Young Sanju Samson didn’t stick around for too long as he fell for 15 off 10.
With Shreyas Iyer and Hardik Pandya in the middle, India needed 37 off 18 balls. Adam Zampa, who has been tidy so far, conceded 12 off the 18th as Iyer slogged him for a six and a four in the over. Iyer’s contribution released the pressure off Pandya inevitably. With 25 needed from 12, it was still a 50-50 game. But in form Pandya made sure he hurt Tye to score 11 from his over, leaving India to get 14 from 6. Sams, who dismissed Kohli, couldn’t keep his nerves intact. His line and length mattered little to Pandya as he smacked the bowler for 2 sixes in the over, wrapping up the game in style. Pandya remained unbeaten on 44 off 22.