NAGPUR: India skipper Rohit Sharma didn’t put a foot wrong on Friday. Right from bringing in Axar Patel in the Powerplay to driving his team’s chase, the skipper aced it all. Sharma displayed a range of shots as he creamed Australian attack and carried his bat as India defeated Australia by six wickets at the VCA stadium.
After losing Hardik Pandya in the penultimate over from Pat Cummins, Rohit (46 not out) played a magnificent square-cut that meant India needed just 10 runs from the last over. Once again, Dinesh Karthik displayed his finishing act with a six and a four to level the series.
India scored 94 for 4 while chasing a 91-run target in a truncated match of 8-over a side.
Rohit was in his elements which provided the stability India desperately needed going into the World Cup. He pulled a six in front of square, another one behind it and delicately chopped Daniel Sams to keep India on track.
India started off with three sixes in the first over to launch their chase in style with the skipper going all out. However, the fall of three big wickets — KL Rahul, Virat Kohli and Suryakumar Yadav — in the span of 10 balls by the fifth over kept the game evenly poised
Earlier, Axar Patel and Jasprit Bumrah were India’s bright spots during the Australian innings. Rohit used them wisely. While Axar was given the new ball to bowl the second and fourth overs, Bumrah handled the onus of death overs, where India have been struggling lately.
It was yet another bad day in office for Yuzvendra Chahal and Harshal Patel, as they both were taken to the cleaners. Matthew Wade targeted Patel as he hit 43 off 20 balls to take his side to a fighting total.
The brave call from Sharma to introduce Patel in the second over, the last over of the Powerplay, jolted the Aussies. The left-arm spinner went wide of the crease and angled the balls in with a slower pace to castle Glenn Maxwell and Tim David to reduce the visitors to 31 for 3.
The efforts of Axar were well complemented by Bumrah, who was playing the shortest format after 73 odd days. He was right on the money and bowled his peculiar toe-crushers in both his overs. Other than sending out Aaron Finch with a full-paced in-swinging delivery, Bumrah's presence was the much-needed incentive for the home side.