In a high-scoring encounter at the SCG on Sunday, India chased down a tough 198 to win off the last ball of the match and, in the process, clean sweep the series 3-0. Australia’s, having won the toss, and being led by Shane Watson, posted an imposing 197 for 5 on the board. The stand-in skipper led the way for his team with an imposing 124 not out from 71 balls. But, India were taken home courtesy fine fifties from Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli before Suresh Raina finished off the chase with an blistering innings, helped by a couple of big blows from Yurvaj Singh.
India began the last over with 17 to get and a struggling Yuvraj on strike. But, the veteran southpaw found his range by flicking Andrew Tye down to fine leg first ball, and then smashing him down the ground for six the next ball. With six needed to get off three, Raina pinched a couple of twos before punching the last ball over point for a four to take India home, and give his team the series 3-0. India would be pleased that the victory was delivered by two southpaws, who made their comebacks into the team for the T20s, and vindicated their respective spots in the team.
Raina was aided by the furious start India got, but every time they fell behind the rate, he ensured India came back with boundaries – combining smart thinking with brute force. He could have been stumped second ball when debutant Cameron Bancroft missed an easy chance off the bowling of Cameron Boyce. Raina responded by depositing the next ball into the stands, and did not look back from that point. He went on to hit six more fours, including the winning runs, requiring just 25 balls for his unbeaten 49.
Chasing 198, India needed to get off to a blazing start, and the top three again fired for the visitors. Shikhar Dhawan once again came out all guns blazing, and took on Shaun Tait, racing to 26 in merely eight balls. But having punched Watson for a four, he fell to the Aussie captain next ball, edging one behind the stumps. Kohli and Rohit though made sure the momentum remained with India, keeping the run rate under control throughout. There was a minor hiccup for India when impressive bowling by Boyce saw both of the being dismissed in their 50s. But, Raina and Yuvraj did enough to see India through.
The wonderful all-round effort of the Indian batting pushed to the background a spectacular innings by Watson, who came up with the second highest T20 score in international cricket, and the highest ever for Australia. He feasted on a couple of free-hits from Jasprit Bumrah early on, which he dispatched to the fence with ease. In all, Watson blasted 10 fours and 6 sixes, brushing aside the threat of the spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja. He dominated a 93-run fourth wicket stand with Travis Head. India however pulled things back to keep Australia under 200. In the end, it made a big difference.
--By A Cricket Correspondent