India’s final T20 World Cup preparation couldn’t have started on a better note as they defeated Australia by six runs after the hosts lost four wickets in the last over that heralded a sensational comeback by Mohammed Shami, who played his last T20I almost a year ago.
Fifties by KL Rahul and Suryakumar Yadav guided India to a respectable 186/7 despite a wobble in the middle overs before they tried five different bowlers in the first five overs. Australia were in control of the chase courtesy skipper Aaron Finch’s 54-ball 76. The equation boiled down to 11 in the last over when Rohit Sharma summoned Shami from the dugout in what proved to be an inspired move. Here are the major takeaways from the win.
Not till the fifth over did Rohit open his account but India weren’t complaining as Rahul went hammer and tongs, hogging the strike in the first four overs. Warming up with an imperious drive off Mitchell Starc in the first over, Rahul carted Pat Cummins for six and four before turning his attention on Marcus Stoinis, pulling him over midwicket for four, making a dent on the sightscreen with a six, brilliantly hooking him towards fine leg for four and ending that fourth-over carnage with a pulled four. Rohit didn’t need to bat really as India raced to 69/0 in the Powerplay.
Surya at his zenith
There is form, and there is Surya’s form where nothing can go wrong. With Virat Kohli nicely settled at the other end, Yadav took six balls to take the aerial route but he miscued it, only for the ball to just fall short of Steve Smith at long-on. It didn’t deter Yadav as he continued to open up angles—wide of point, shuffling across to heave the ball towards long-on, reverse sweeping and flicking the ball over short fine-leg—to find boundaries before clobbering Cummins over long-on for six. His dismissal came in the most bizarre fashion though as an intended flick took the bottom of the bat and lobbed back to bowler Kane Richardson.
No nerves for Shami
Shami was bringing drinks to the batters and chatting with England all-rounder Moeen Ali—their game against Pakistan was next—giving off the vibe he was going to sit out of the game. Rohit had other ideas. Defending 10 off the last over, Shami conceded four off the first two balls till Kohli dismissed Cummins with a brilliant one-handed catch in the deep. Next ball, Ashton Agar was run out by Shami. Out came two yorkers, first dislodging Josh Inglis’s stumps as he nearly keeled over, before cleaning up Richardson’s off-stump. There was no Jasprit Bumrah but he wasn’t missed.
“This was always the plan,” said Rohit later. “Honestly, he is coming back after a long time. So we just wanted to give him an over. This was always the plan from the beginning. He comes and bowls at the death. We know how lethal he can be with the new ball. We just wanted to give him a little bit of a challenge, coming and bowling that death over and we saw what it was.”
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