Sports: Australia Bounces Back: Stunning Chase Hands India Their First Defeat in the Ongoing T20I Series

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Varad Bhatkhande

Guwahati, 28th November 2023: The ongoing 5-match T20I series between India and Australia saw India securing victories in the first two matches, establishing a 2-0 lead. The third T20I took place today at the Assam Cricket Association Stadium in Guwahati. A win for India in this match would have clinched the 5-match ODI series for them. However, Australia emerged victorious in the end, chasing down a substantial target of 223 runs with 5 wickets to spare and no balls left. This outcome marks the completion of the third match in the series, and as a result, India maintains their lead with the series standing at 2-1.

In the ongoing series, both India and Australia have been utilizing their rotational squads. In this match, Australian captain Matthew Wade won the toss and opted to bowl first, downplaying the potential impact of dew. Wade acknowledged certain areas in their performance that needed improvement and anticipated a closely contested match. Several changes were made to the Australian playing XI, with Travis Head, Aaron Hardie, Kane Richardson, and Jason Behrendorff joining the lineup.

On the Indian side, Suryakumar Yadav expressed contentment with the decision to bat first, emphasizing the importance of sticking to the game plan. The absence of Mukesh Kumar, who was unavailable due to his own scheduled marriage, resulted in Avesh Khan being included in the squad.

Ruturaj Gaikwad and Yashasvi Jaiswal were the opening pair for India in the match, making a strong start in the first over. However, Jaiswal’s innings came to an end in the second over itself when Matthew Wade caught him on a Jason Behrendorff delivery, with Jaiswal scoring 6 runs in 6 balls. His dismissal was the result of a beautifully executed outswing delivery.

Ishan Kishan took the crease after Jaiswal’s departure but was soon dismissed without scoring any runs, as Marcus Stoinis took a sharp catch off Kane Richardson’s delivery. Captain Suryakumar Yadav stepped in. Gaikwad and Yadav, to preserve wickets, adopted a patient approach, especially considering the swinging conditions favouring fast bowlers.

After the powerplay, India had scored 43 runs for the loss of 2 wickets at a run rate of 7.17. Suryakumar Yadav then took charge, initiating an attacking approach. India reached the 50-run mark in the 7th over. Ruturaj Gaikwad played the anchoring role similar to the last match, while Suryakumar Yadav, looking well-settled, was caught behind by Matthew Wade attempting a scoop shot off Aaron Hardie’s delivery, scoring 39 in 29 balls.

As Gaikwad shifted gears and began an attacking phase, Tilak Verma assumed the anchoring role in their partnership. Gaikwad then notched up his half-century in 32 balls, displaying a blend of patience and aggression. With support from Verma, Gaikwad continued his attacking play, propelling India to the 150-run mark in the 16th over.

As Gaikwad approached his century, Verma provided valuable support, ensuring a balanced partnership. Gaikwad’s stellar form persisted, and he reached the coveted century milestone in just 52 balls. This remarkable achievement made Ruturaj Gaikwad the 9th Indian batsman to score a century in T20 Internationals. The collaboration between Gaikwad and Verma played a pivotal role in India’s formidable total in the match.

In the end, India posted an impressive total of 222 runs in their 20 overs, losing 3 wickets. Ruturaj Gaikwad remained unbeaten at 123 in 57 balls, while Tilak Verma contributed an unbeaten 31 in 24 balls. This marked the third consecutive T20I match in which India surpassed the 200-run mark, showcasing their excellent batting form.

From the Australian bowling department, Jason Behrendorff delivered a splendid bowling performance, completing a spell of 4 overs while conceding only 12 runs and also securing 1 wicket. Additionally, Kane Richardson and Aaron Hardie each took 1 wicket in their respective spells.

Chasing a formidable target of 223 runs, Australia began their innings with Travis Head and Aaron Hardie, adopting an aggressive approach to reach the target. The recent World Cup final hero, Head, took on the Indian bowlers. However, the partnership was interrupted when Ishan Kishan caught Hardie behind on an Arshdeep Singh delivery, and Hardie departed after scoring 16 runs in 12 balls.

Josh Inglis joined Head after Hardie’s dismissal, but Inglis was soon dismissed for 10 runs in 6 balls by Ravi Bishnoi. Marcus Stoinis took the crease, but struggled and eventually got out for a slow 17 runs in 21 balls when Suryakumar Yadav caught him on an Axar Patel delivery. Tim David came in next but was dismissed for a golden duck when Suryakumar Yadav caught him on a Ravi Bishnoi delivery.

Matthew Wade entered the fray after David’s dismissal, and Australia maintained their aggressive intent. Australia reached the 150-run mark in the 16th over, with Glenn Maxwell reaching his half-century in 28 balls. After a drop by Suryakumar Yadav in the 18th over, Wade continued to contribute.

In the last two overs, Australia needed 43 runs to win. They scored 22 runs off Axar Patel’s over, gaining momentum going into the final over. Requiring 21 runs in the last over bowled by Prasidh Krishna, Wade hit a boundary on the first ball, bringing the equation to 17 runs needed off 5 balls. Maxwell, at the strike, hit a six on the third ball, reducing the requirement to 10 runs off 3 balls. A boundary on the fourth ball brought the equation to 6 runs needed off 2 balls.

Prasidh Krishna’s bowling seemed to be struggling against Maxwell’s onslaught. Maxwell hit another boundary on the fifth ball, reaching his century in just 47 balls. With 2 runs needed on the last ball, Maxwell hit a boundary, securing the win for Australia. Maxwell remained unbeaten at 104 in 48 balls, while Matthew Wade contributed with 28 runs in 16 balls. Australia achieved the target on the last ball, winning the match by 5 wickets with no balls left.

In the Indian bowling department, Ravi Bishnoi emerged as a standout performer, securing 2 wickets in his 4 overs while conceding 32 runs. Arshdeep Singh, Axar Patel, and Avesh Khan also contributed with 1 wicket each in their respective spells. However, Prasidh Krishna had a challenging day, as he gave away 68 runs in his 4 overs without managing to take any wickets.

In conclusion, Australia secured a thrilling victory in the third match of the series by chasing down the challenging target of 223 runs with 5 wickets in hand and no balls left. This win brought the series to a standing of 2-1, with India maintaining their lead. Australia’s triumph in this encounter keeps them alive in the series, setting the stage for a competitive contest. The match was a nail-biting encounter, marked by a second-last-ball finish in the series. The upcoming 4th match of the series is scheduled for December 1 at Shaheed Veer Narayan Singh International Cricket Stadium, Raipur.