Raipur, December 1
Ignored for the upcoming assignment in South Africa, left-arm spinner Axar Patel responded with excellent figures of 3/16 as India got the better of Australia by 20 runs in the fourth T20I to win the five-match series here on Friday.
This was India’s fifth consecutive T20I series on trot.
Rinku Singh blazed away to a 29-ball 46 while Jitesh Sharma smashed 35 in 19 balls before Australia pulled things back to stop India at 174 for nine after the visitors opted to bowl first.
Cruising at 167 for four in 18.3 overs, India lost five wickets for only seven runs in the last two overs, thanks to Ben Dwarshuis (3/40) and Jason Behrendorff (2/32).
In reply, Australia were restricted to 154 for seven in 20 overs as India took an unassailable 3-1 lead with a match to go. Matthew Wade remained not out on 36 off 23 balls.
Axar Patel (3/16) and Ravi Bishnoi (1/17) were magnificent, bowling eight overs for only 33 runs with four scalps to their credit. There was no dew and hence the target of 175 became defendable unlike Guwahati. Both spinners hit immaculate lengths and mostly bowled stump to stump which became Australia’s undoing.
Set a target of 175, Australia were off to a flyer with Travis Head (31 off 16 balls) collecting a flurry of boundaries to lift his team to 42 for one in four overs, including picking 22 runs off seamer Deepak Chahar.
Seasoned spinner Axar however had the hero of Australia’s World Cup final caught after the batter got a leading edge while attempting a slog-sweep.
It was a huge breakthrough for India, coming 10 balls after leg-spinner Ravi Bishnoi knocked over Josh Philippe’s off-stump with one that straightened.
Playing across the line, Aaron Hardie’s middle stump was disturbed by Axar as he put India in a position of strength by leaving Australia at 55 for three at the end of seventh over.
Skipper Suryakumar Yadav introduced Avesh Khan into the attack and the seamer started on a good note, conceding six runs in his first over.
Ben McDermott (19) and Tim David (19) steadied the Australian innings with a 35-run partnership before Axar picked up his third wicket to leave the visitors in a very difficult situation at 87 for four in the 12th over and with the run rate pressure increasing.
Axar hit McDermott’s off stump as the batter went for a big shot.
Taken to the cleaners by Head earlier in the innings, Chahar came back strongly to dismiss David and reduce Australia to 107 for five in the 15th over and the match tilted decisively in favour of India.
Earlier, Aaron Hardie started the match with a maiden over before Yashasvi Jaiswal (37 off 28 balls) got off the mark with a lovely cover drive Jason Behrendorff.
The 21-year-old Jaiswal launched into Ben Dwarshuis in the third over, hitting the left-arm seamer for three boundaries to set the tone for the hosts.
Ruturaj Gaikwad (32 off 28 balls) watched the action from the other end as Jaiswal went after the bowling and when the former did get strike for the first time in the fourth over, he employed the cut shot off a Behrendorff delivery to open his account with a boundary.
Jaiswal continued with his aggressive ways and played debutant spinner Chris Green through the off-side for a four before smashing him over the midwicket fence for a six.
Recalled into the attack to stem the flow of runs, Hardie was hit straight down the ground for a four by Jaiswal, but the decision to bring him back ended in a success as Australia got their first breakthrough in the left-handed opener.
Going for one too many, Jaiswal could not connect well enough and Ben McDermott completed a good catch running from mid-on, as India reached 50 for one at the end of powerplay.
Joining the side after a small break following the World Cup, vice-captain Shreyas Iyer (8), looking to hit leg-spinner Tanveer Sangha out of the ground, could not get enough power or elevation and Green took the catch at long-on.
Skipper Suryakumar Yadav (1) casually edged Dwarshuis to the keeper, leaving India at 63 for three in the beginning of the ninth over and the crowd at Shaheed Veer Narayan Singh International Stadium silent.
The partisan spectators were however not required to keep quiet for long as Rinku Singh got going straightaway, his customary powerful strokes aiding him.
Rinku and Ruturaj added 48 runs for the fourth wicket before the latter was dismissed by Sangha. But that did not deter Rinku from playing his natural game and he found an able ally in Jitesh, the two adding 50 runs in just 29 balls to lift India’s run rate.
Jitesh, however, fell when he was looking good to add a few more runs to his total.
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