On a beautiful batting surface at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium here on Sunday evening, there were quite a few high quality innings. Cameron Green left you marvelling at his range and power as he set the tone for the game with a 21-ball 52; Tim David’s clean hitting in the slog overs (27-ball 54) gave late impetus to the Australian innings and Virat Kohli was in supreme touch as well during his 48-ball 63. That Suryakumar Yadav still put everyone’s effort to shade says it all about the brilliance of his strokeplay on the night.
Coming in to bat with India 30/2 chasing 187 in the deciding third T20, Yadav produced an exhilarating display of shots, scoring 69 off 36 balls with five fours and sixes each. The six-wicket victory helped India clinch the series 2-1.
It was the first international game in Hyderabad after three years and fans packed the stands well before the toss. They let out a massive roar as Rohit Sharma won it.
All eyes were on the Indian openers as they came out to chase, but KL Rahul fell for one and Sharma was cramped trying to pull and holed out to deep square leg. But the third-wicket pair of Kohli and Yadav helped the silenced crowd get their voice back with an electric partnership of 104 runs.
To put pressure on Kohli, Australia captain Aaron Finch had Adam Zampa on in the third over but Kohli was in his elements. He started off with a drive past cover off the leg-spinner before launching into Josh Hazlewood in the sixth over to bring the innings 50 with a six and a four. A lofted on-drive for six in the ninth over off Zampa took the breath away.
Yadav was simply sensational. After warming up with two fours off Maxwell in the eighth over, he produced some outrageous six hitting, first stepping down to pacer Daniel Sams and lofting into the crowd. The pair kept the required rate under check with constant boundaries as India reached 91/2 after 10 overs.
The 100 was brought up in 10.6 overs with a savage hit into the midwicket stands off a back of the length delivery by Pat Cummins. Yadav reached 50 off 29 balls with four fours and three sixes. When India reached 102 (59 balls), Yadav’s was on 68 and Kohli 33.
Green was the only bowler who managed to keep Yadav quiet, conceding just four singles in the 12th over. However, in the next over by Zampa, Yadav took full toll with two stunning sixes. First he stepped out to take the ball on the full and whipped it over long-on, reaching his fifty off 29 balls. The next ball was marvelously lofted over cover. Next over, Josh Hazlewood was clobbered for a four and six, but to the relief of the Australian bowlers, he hit the last ball to the long-off fielder.
When he got out at the score of 134, the game was in control with 53 needed in 36 balls. Boundaries were hard to come after that, and India needed 11 to win in the final over. Kohli hit the first ball for six before Pandya finished it off with a four off the fifth ball.
Yadav said: “Thoughts have always been the same, have always wanted to express myself. That’s how I practice in the nets. Just loving at No 4. A lot of challenges and responsibilities as well (for T20 WC). You can’t shy away from expressing yourself. Have to be smart.”
Bowling though was far from satisfactory for India. The pace attack undid the good work of the spinners as India’s indifferent bowling performance continued to hamper preparations for the T20 World Cup.
Left-arm spinner Axar Patel was again the pick of the bowlers with a three wicket haul (8 wickets in the series). Yuzvendra Chahal provided good support. There wasn’t much to write home about the rest of the bowling performance.
Australia started brilliantly and then finished strongly. The 18th and 19th overs, India lost the plot. Tim David went after Bhuvneshswar Kumar in the 18th and hit 16 runs in the last three balls, taking 21 runs off the over. Bumrah was hammered for 18 runs in the 19th. For the first time in his career, Bumrah went for 50 runs in his four overs.