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Men in Blue seals the series by 4-1 against Aussies

Updated on: 04 December,2023 07:50 AM IST  |  Bangalore
R Kaushik |

Suryakumar Yadav-led India refuse to drop their guard in final T20I against Australia, extend three-win lead in thriller at Bangalore

Men in Blue seals the series by 4-1 against Aussies

Shreyas Iyer en route his 53 at Bangalore yesterday. Pics/PTI

In the end, not even a blazing cameo from their skipper Matthew Wade was enough to secure Australia a consolation victory in the final Twenty20 International on Sunday night. The visitors made heavy weather of what ought to have been a regulation chase, finding novel methods to throw their wickets as India’s faster bowlers came good at the death at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium.

Spinners Ravi Bishnoi and Axar Patel had taken three for 43 in eight overs to make India’s modest 160 for eight appear bigger than it was on a track that had a little extra bounce, but after the blazing start provided by Travis Head and the fiery ball-striking which netted Ben McDermott his highest T20I score, Australia would have fancied their chances heading into the final five overs needing 45 with five wickets in hand.

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McDermott on fire

The plethora of full tosses India’s quicks sent down finally found reward as McDermott and Matthew Short put Arshdeep Singh and Mukesh Kumar in business respectively. Wade smashed three fours in the 18th over from Avesh Khan as victory appeared tantalisingly close, but Mukesh bowled a tight 19th that went for seven, leaving Arshdeep with 10 to defend in the last over.

Mukesh Kumar celebrates an Australian wicket yesterday
Mukesh Kumar celebrates an Australian wicket yesterday

Wade was furious that the first ball of the last over wasn’t called a wide for height and holed out to long-on off the third. Australia eventually crashed and burned to finish on 154 for eight, India squeaking home by six runs to clinch the series 4-1. It was their fifth straight T20I series triumph on home turf.

In the first half, India’s top order had sold itself short after Wade won yet another toss this series. A series of questionable strokes against an admittedly disciplined Australian meant they were always playing catch-up, never finding the momentum that could have pushed them to the kind of total they would have anticipated, given how well they had batted in the first four games.

Axar shines

Had it not been for late fireworks from Jitesh Kumar and Player of the Match Axar Patel, who both complemented Shreyas Iyer (53), India would have been in even greater trouble. Yashasvi Jaiswal blew away a roaring start while Ruturaj Gaikwad, Suryakumar Yadav and Rinku Singh all perished to big strokes, Australia pegging away relentlessly.

At 55 for four with more than half the overs left, India still didn’t change tack. Jitesh played a few handsome strokes in a stand of 42 with Iyer, who then had Axar for company during a sixth-wicket alliance that fetched 46. India scrapped and fought their way to a reasonable tally, perhaps feeling they had left themselves maybe 20 short despite 99 coming in the last ten. But Australia’s batsmen were in an obliging mood as they failed to back up the lion-hearted efforts of the bowling group, spearheaded by Aaron Hardie and leggie Tanveer Sangha, allowing India to get out of jail.

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