Australia evade Karthik blitz to pick up narrow win

Shikhar Dhawan, for the first-half of the innings, and Dinesh Karthik right at the end, threatened to extend Australia’s run of losses in T20Is, but the hosts managed to pick up a narrow four-run win by the DLS Methodcourtesy an all-round effort from Marcus Stoinis, who successfully defended 13 runs in the final over. Needing 174 in 17 overs, in a rain-curtailed encounter, India had a tough start losing Rohit Sharma cheaply for 7 and with KL Rahul also failing to fire, the onus was on the free-flowing Dhawan to bat deep.

Dhawan, who made 92 in his previous T20I appearance against Windies just a few days ago, timed the ball beautifully to thrill the Indian supporters at the Gabba, who outnumbered the locals. Australia’s tactic to bowl short didn’t pay off against the left-hander, with a pick-up shot off Jason Behrendorff standing out from the rest he played in his 42-ball 76 comprising of 10 fours and two sixes. The moment he reached his half-century, Dhawan lost Rahul at the other end via a stumping, in an over that also saw Alex Carey appealing for hit-wicket in bizarre fashion after having disturbing the bails himself, as replays suggested, with Rahul’s foot nowhere near the sticks.

Adam Zampa tightened the screws with the wicket and continued to hurt India as captain Virat Kohli couldn’t get going batting at number four. A thick outside edge saw the ball land safely in the hands of Chris Lynn at short third man. India needed 78 from 36 at this stage with the hope of a win resting on Dhawan’s shoulders. But Australia got the big fish in the very next over when Billy Stanlake persisted with his short-ball ploy, with Dhawan guiding one straight into the hands of the fielder at third man after muscling one over backward square leg two balls earlier.

Rishabh Pant and Dinesh Karthik, who had exchanged gloves for this contest, had a massive task at hand with India needing 60 from the final four overs. Looking down and out, India stormed back into the contest courtesy a 25-run over where both batsmen smashed Andrew Tye, who looked helpless on this surface. Karthik continued to look in terrific touch by pulling one off Stoinis for a boundary in the 15th over and followed it up with a terrific shot wide of long-off to bring the equation down to 20 off 11, as Tye conceded 47 runs in three overs.

India were favourites at this stage, but Pant failed in his attempt to bring out a reverse scoop off Tye. Australia seized the opportunity to apply the pressure and even though Karthik found the boundary again off the final ball of the penultimate over, Stoinis used his variations to good effect when India needed 13 off the final 6. Karthik could have perhaps avoided taking the second run off the first ball of the final over as Stoinis bowled a dot ball, and then removed Krunal off the next ball to bring the equation to 11 off 3. Karthik was back on strike at this stage but another slower one led to his downfall which eventually sealed India’s fate.

Earlier in the evening, Australia staged a pretty good recovery to post 158 on the board. D’Arcy Short struggled to get going right from the outset as Australia scored only 13 from the first three overs. That prompted Aaron Finch to open up and hit one straight to Kohli at short cover but the Indian captain put it down on a day where the Indians weren’t at their best on the field. Short’s misery finally came to an end when he mistimed Khaleel Ahmed’s first ball of the match.

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Australia had 16 dot balls in the powerplay, needing a few big overs to up the ante. Chris Lynn teed off at the right time smashing Khaleel for three sixes to get the run-rate closer to eight, but Kuldeep Yadav’s double strike in successive overs dented Australia again. First, he outfoxed Finch, who tried to slog and managed only an edge to backward point. He struck again when Lynn hit one back to the bowler in tame fashion after threatening to continue to his assault. It appeared as if India had struck again immediately when Krunal had Stoinis adjudged leg before while attempting a reverse paddle but the batsman’s decision to challenge the umpire’s verdict paid dividends as replays showed the ball sailing over the stumps.

Glenn Maxwell started off cautiously, but Stoinis kept the scorecard ticking as he picked up a couple of fours off Khaleel, who had a forgettable debut on Australian soil. At the other end, Maxwell finally opened up to completely shift the momentum in Australia’s favour. He picked on Krunal for the assault as he launched three massive sixes off the left-arm spinner over long-on as the duo brought up their half-century stand off just 22 balls.

Apart from the big-hitting, the feature of their partnership was the running between the wickets. Maxwell and Stoinis pushed for twos and threes to constantly put pressure on the fielders. After seeing off Kuldeep’s final over, the two batsmen hit a six each off Krunal in his final over and when Maxwell attempted a six for the fifth time, he mistimed the delivery but managed to hang on with the ball hitting the spider cam. Two balls later, Khaleel dropped Stoinis and the players immediately rushed back to the pavilion due to rain.

After a prolonged delay, three overs were reduced in each innings, and thankfully for India, they had already started the 17th over with Jasprit Bumrah before the rain interruption. Bumrah came back to finish off a top over where he conceded only five runs off the last five balls which included Maxwell’s wicket. Despite those efforts, the target was adjusted to 174, which was just enough for Australia to nick a much-needed win.

Brief scores: Australia 158/4 in 17 overs (Glenn Maxwell 46, Chris Lynn 37, Marcus Stoinis 33*; Kuldeep Yadav 2-24) beat India 169/7 [Target 174] in 17 overs (Shikhar Dhawan 76, Dinesh Karthik 30; Adam Zampa 2-22, Marcus Stoinis 2-27) by four runs by DLS Method.

-CRICKBUZZ-

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