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The Hindu
The Hindu
N. Sudarshan

IND vs AUS T20Is | Shreyas, Mukesh and Bishnoi shine as Men in Blue clinch a humdinger

Australia’s hope of leaving the sub-continental shores with a consolation win proved a mirage as India won the final T20I by six runs at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium here on December 3.

Chasing 161, Australia needed 10 from the final over, with the marauding Matthew Wade still at the crease. But Arshdeep Singh conceded just three runs and also sent back Wade (22, 15b, 4x4) by having him caught at long-on to ensure India finished the series 4-1.

So long as Travis Head was at the wicket (28, 18b, 5x4, 1x6), Australia cantered along. The southpaw hit Arshdeep for a hat-trick of boundaries — through extra-cover, down the ground and wide of long-leg — muscled Avesh Khan over mid-wicket and cut him through cover.

Ravi Bishnoi was summoned to stop the bleeding, but Head welcomed him with a slog-swept maximum over mid-wicket. But off the very next ball, the leggie bamboozled Head with a slider that disturbed the off-stump. Not long after, Bishnoi had Aaron Hardie caught at long-on.

The run flow was down to a trickle and Australia didn’t breach the ropes for three full overs (eight to 10). But Ben McDermott, who had started with a two mighty sixes off Mukesh Kumar and Avesh, assumed the mantle by sending Bishnoi soaring over long-on, carving Arshdeep over deep-point and then smashing the left-armer straight down to bring up his fifty off 34 balls.

Arshdeep, however, would have his revenge in the same over when McDermott couldn’t clear Rinku Singh at long-off.

With 45 needed from 30 balls, Avesh bowled a tight eight-run over before Mukesh conceded just five and removed Matthew Short and Ben Dwarshuis off consecutive deliveries to reduce Australia to 129 for seven from 17 overs.

With 32 needed from 18 balls, Wade hit Avesh for a hat-trick of boundaries to keep Australia within touching distance, only for Mukesh (19th over, seven runs) and Arshdeep to thwart his best-laid plans.

Earlier, after being asked to bat first, India struggled to stroke freely on a pitch that was double-paced and had some turn. Yashasvi Jaiswal, as he has done all series, punted on his belligerent hitting and clubbed Aaron Hardie and Jason Behrendorff for a couple of sixes.

But Jaiswal’s dismissal in the fourth over — caught by a running Nathan Ellis from square-leg off Behrendorff — triggered a mini collapse. From 33 for no loss, India slumped to 55 for four, with Ruturaj Gaikwad, Suryakumar Yadav and Rinku all back in the hut.

Australia’s fielding was tight and its catching excellent. With the outfield also sluggish, the least obstructive and frictionless path towards scoring big was to deal in sixes or via boundaries behind square.

Shreyas Iyer (53, 37b, 5x4, 2x6) did exactly that, creaming Dwarshuis over long-off, nicking behind the wicket-keeper to collect a couple of fours and using the pace of the ball to ease Dwarshuis past point for his best shot of the evening.

Along with Shreyas’ half-century, neat cameos from Jitesh Sharma (24, 16b, 3x4, 1x6) and Axar Patel (31, 21b, 2x4, 1x6), propped India up, with the fifth- and sixth-wicket partnerships fetching 42 and 46 runs respectively. Two hours on, these efforts acquired a match-winning halo.

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