There was an indisputable sign of determination and sheer audacity from Suryakumar Yadav as he produced yet another stunning knock to help India beat Australia by six wickets to win the three-match T20I series at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad on Sunday.
If Suryakumar (69,36b, 5*4, 5*6) dazzled away with his batting pyrotechnics, Virat Kohli (63,48b, 3*4, 4*6) re-established his connection with Hyderabad as the former India skipper dropped anchor and crafted a match-winning half-century. It was on the same ground in 2019 when Kohli hammered a match-winning unbeaten 94 to help India gun down a total of 208 against the West Indies. And the crowd was in a treat for another batting exhibition by the master.
India was off to a shaky start in its chase of 187 as it lost openers KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma cheaply. Daniel Sams and Pat Cummins dismissed Rahul and Rohit to leave India in a precarious position with the scorecard reading 30/2.
As the evening progressed, with a boisterous crowd behind them, the duo added a 104-run partnership off just 62 balls to orchestrate an excellent run chase.
Kohli and Suryakumar resisted the attack initially before unleashing their shots. Suryakumar started with a high-elbow jab for a maximum, while Kohli warmed up with a cover drive and then danced down the track to thump Adam Zampa over long-on.
Cameron Green was introduced inside the PowerPlay followed by Adam Zampa and Sams. Australia tried to break the partnership but Suryakumar and Kohli weren’t in a mood to fall into the spin trap as the duo motored on while keeping an eye on the required rate.
India ensured that the boundaries kept coming with the pair bringing up their fifty-run partnership and then pressing the accelerator.
At midway, India was 91/2 with the required rate below 10 runs per over. Post the drinks break, a pep talk from head coach Rahul Dravid saw Suryakumar further up the ante as he smoked Cummins over deep mid-wicket and got to his half-century with a wonderful flick as the ball flew over the long-on boundary.
Hazlewood provided the breakthrough by dismissing Suryakumar, but by then a well-set Kohli had bossed the chase by bringing up his 33rd T20I half-century. There were a few nervous moments towards the end as India needed 24 runs from 12 deliveries with Hardik Pandya accompanying Kohli.
Hardik drilled a Hazlewood low full toss over long-off for a maximum as India needed 11 runs in six balls. The tension was still palpable with Sams bowling the last over and dismissing Kohli after being hammered for a maximum. India needed four off two balls and Hardik sealed the deal by connecting a wide yorker as the ball raced away to the third-man boundary.
Earlier, Cameron Green registered a 19-ball 50 to give Australia a blazing start. After being asked to bat first on a belter of a track, Green was off the blocks in a flash as the white ball flew to almost every corner of the park. Opening the batting in the company of Aaron Finch, Green set a batting exhibition with a massive six over deep square leg and then attacked both Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Axar Patel.
The introduction of Bumrah saw Green hammering the lead pacer for 17 runs with a sumptuous pull over the square leg boundary. However, Axar, bowling inside the Powerplay, applied the brakes by dismissing Finch although he couldn’t escape the wrath of Green.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar brought joy to the Indian camp when the swing bowler packed off Green. Bhuvneshwar kept bowling away from Green’s reach and the batter chased one outside the off-stump only to get a top-edge with KL Rahul taking a simple catch at backward point.
If Green provided Australia with a dream start, Tim David blasted his way to an attacking maiden T20I fifty for Australia as his side recovered from a middle-order slump to post a challenging 186/7 in 20 overs. The post-PowerPlay period saw Australia lose the plot as the Indian bowlers corrected their line and lengths with the run-out of Maxwell adding a spring in their steps. While Chahal defeated Steve Smith with his wrong ‘un, Axar Patel with a double blow gave the crowd voice and India, control.
The left-arm spinner first dismissed Josh Inglis and then took an excellent return catch to get the prized wicket of Matthew Wade. Axar not only contained the batsmen but also took wickets as he took his second three-wicket haul of the series to finish with 4-0-33-3.