Aaron Finch and Co weathered Virat Kohli’s storm with the bat to pick up a consolation win in the final T20I of the three-match series. The loss spoiled India’s win streak, as the visitors conceded a match for the first time after being unbeaten in eleven T20Is. Despite putting up a total that was 7 runs short than their 2nd T20I total, the hosts managed to tame the men in blue.
With Aaron Finch coming in place of Marcus Stoinis, Australia were sent to bat first. Had Finch won the toss, they would have bowled first too, confessed the Aussie skipper. But it didn’t matter as they managed to prevent a series sweep. In form Wade once again gave Australia a solid start despite Finch returning on a duck. A series of catch drop and a delayed DRS call from Kohli, saw the southpaw obliterating the Indian bowlers to rack up a 53 ball 80. Smith failed to find his form as he returned on 24 off 23. It was Glenn Maxwell who gave the perfect support to Wade in the middle. Maxwell too got a life when Chahal dismissed him on a no-ball. And the all-rounder too the full advantage of the advantage. He went on to smack 54 off 36 before finally perishing to a T Natarajan delivery. Wade too departed at the death as he fell prey to Shardul Thakur’s slower ball. For the men in blue, Washington Sundar scalped 2.
Chasing 187, India got a jolt right at the first over. Maxwell fed a flighted slower to KL Rahul who came down to hit it over long-on. But the ball dipped well inside and was pouched safely by Smith. It was always an uphill task for India, but since they just did the impossible in their previous outing, it seemed as if they had the upper hand. But Finch’s captaincy on the day clicked exactly the way he planned.
Dhawan (28 off 21) and Kohli started building a good partnership but leggie Mitchell Swepson gave the hosts the desired breakthrough in the 8th over. Dhawan slog-swept a slower delivery which went straight to Daniel Sams. Sams almost spilled the catch in the process of diving forward but he plucked it from the air with his left hand as he fell on the ground.
Kohli was joined by Sanju Samson (10 off 9) but his stay was short too. Samson was followed by Shreyas Iyer (0 off 1) almost immediately. Swepson picked up two crucial wickets in a single over, which turned the match in favour of the Aussies. In came Hardik Pandya. Last game’s hero at the death over, Pandya gave hope to the Indian fans as slogged two sixes and a four in his 13 balls 20.
Kohli who was fighting alone from the other side found a much-needed break from the pressure and India’s victory was still on the cards. Kohli brought up his fifty and was timing the ball awfully well.
Aware of Pandya’s capability, Finch brought the joker of his pack in the 18th over. Adam Zampa came and scalped Pandya’s prized wicket in the first ball. With 36 needed from 18, Kohli lost his cool as he departed in the next over on the very first ball of Andrew Tye. Kohli’s 85 off 61 went in vain, as India conceded the game by 12 runs. Swepson was declared the man of the match and Hardik Pandya bagged the man of the series title.