Captain Virat Kohli’s 61-ball 85 was not enough as India went down by 12 runs to Australia in the third and final T20I of the series at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) on Tuesday (December 8).
India won the series 2-1 after successes in the previous two games. Now, both teams will be involved in four Tests starting with the day-night contest in Adelaide from December 17.
Today’s loss also meant that the Indian side’s 10-match winning streak ended in the shortest format of the game.
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Kohli got as many as four reprieves and cashed in well enough to smash his way to another half-century but his dismissal in the 19th over put paid to India’s chances in pursuit of 187 as the visitors ended with 174/7 in 20 overs.
It was a slash drive off Andrew Tye in the penultimate over which was plucked inches off the ground by Daniel Sams, who compensated for a forgettable day with the ball.
An over before that Hardik Pandya’s swagger was checked by Adam Zampa (1/21 in 3 overs). Zampa’s leg-break turned enough to force the batsman to hit one against the turn and be caught at short third-man.
Once Pandya was gone, there was too much pressure on Kohli and this was one rare occasion when he failed to take the team home.
While he hit four fours and three sixes, Kohli did lead a charmed life as Steve Smith missed a dolly at deep mid-wicket fence when he gave Maxwell the charge.
Then Sean Abbott failed to get his hands on a tough return catch while another slipped through Tye’s palms. During the fag end, Matthew Wade missed an easy stumping.
The Indian captain scored his third half-century of the tour and an effortless six off Abbott after the completion of the milestone gave much-needed relief to the Indian dug-out. This was after Mitchell Swepson’s (3/23) innocuous leg-breaks reduced them to 100/4.
Swepson would be the first to admit that he was lucky to dismiss Shikhar Dhawan (28 off 21 balls) with a half-tracker and ever unreliable Sanju Samson (10) with a low full-toss.
— BCCI (@BCCI) December 8, 2020
The only wicket-taking delivery he bowled was the one that got Shreyas Iyer out for a first-ball duck.
While Pandya (20 off 13 balls) initially took time, Kohli decided to take matters in his own hands as he first deposited Sams into the mid-wicket stands and then guided a rising delivery behind square.
Zampa dismissing Pandya turned out to be the turning point.
Earlier, Wade’s second consecutive half-century was well-complemented by Maxwell’s blazing strokeplay as Australia posted a competitive 186/5 after being put into bat.
Wade, who has played all his big T20 knocks against India, smashed his way to 80 off 53 balls with the help seven fours and two sixes.
Maxwell, who struggled with his timing initially, also got into the act during the last six overs with a 35-ball-54 and a third-wicket stand of 90 runs in 8.4 overs with Wade.
India’s bowling heroes were Washington Sundar (2/34 in 4 overs) and Thangarasu Natarajan (1/33 in 4 overs). Natarajan, despite a few boundaries conceded in the final over, was pretty impressive.
(With inputs from PTI)