India have finally ended their 15-match winless streak abroad - that began last June. Since June 28, 2011, India have drawn two Tests and lost eight, lost three ODIs and tied one, and lost two T20 internationals until crossing the line at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) yesterday.
When a vicious googly from chinaman bowler Brad Hogg took Virat Kohli's edge and flew to fine third man fence for a boundary, one knew that the rub of the green was finally going India's way. The lightning fast outfield at MCG too helped their boundary-loving batsmen. They chased down a middling 132-run target with two balls to spare to level the two-match Twenty20 international series, as a strong Indian contingent, perhaps half the 62,275 that gathered, enjoyed their team's first win on the tour Down Under.
Sparkle: Indian players celebrate a wicket during yesterday's T20 International against Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Pics/Getty Images
Super Gauti, Kohli Gautam Gambhir (56 not out) and Kohli (31) smartly worked the fine angles at the enormous arena, to pinch twos and threes, while Australian fielders strangely missed some otherwise easy cracks at the stumps. Towards the closing stages of the run chase, Clint McKay's dive at fine leg pushed the ball into the boundary. It was a surprisingly mediocre fielding side from the hosts.
India though were outstanding on the park - executing four run-outs to bowl Australia out for 131 in 19.4 overs after George Bailey won the toss and chose to bat. Australia's T20 captain acknowledged that India was the better fielding unit on the day. "They (India) certainly lifted their fielding (from Wednesday). We knew before the start of the game that if we out-fielded them, we'd have won. But the truth is that they out-fielded us. No doubt about that," Bailey said. "We were surprised they didn't field this well on Wednesday (at Sydney).
Their new guys that have come in for the T20 and one-dayers are very good fielders. There's a different energy in this Indian side. It's surprising that it's taken them so long in the tour (close to two months) to get their first win," he added. Australia crowded the inner circle in the final over, but Gambhir managed to pierce one through mid-wicket and mid-on to close out the game. Skipper MS Dhoni remained unbeaten on 21.
Earlier, India's spin trio of Rahul Sharma, R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja combined for figures of 3-68 from 10.4 overs, ably supported by the Kumars - Praveen and Vinay - who combined for 3-46 from seven. For Australia, local lad Aaron Finch blasted 36 from 23 until his run out in the seventh over turned the tide in India's favour. Matthew Wade held firm for 32, after David Hussey fell for 24.
54 The number of runs Delhi boys Gautam Gambhir and Virat Kohli put on for the second wicket at the Melbourne Cricket Ground yesterday