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India seal series with 20-run win over Australia | Cricket


India seal series with 20-run win over Australia | Cricket


On what was a two-paced surface in Raipur on Friday, India showed their spin might to earn a 20-run win over Australia in the fourth T20I and claim the series with a game to spare. For the first time in the series, the pitch wasn’t a belter and less than 400 runs were scored in the contest. Batting first, the hosts put on a total of 174/9 before restricting the visitors to 154/7 to take an unassailable 3-1 lead.

Rinku Singh is greeted by Chris Green at the end of the 4th T20I between India and Australia(AFP)
Rinku Singh is greeted by Chris Green at the end of the 4th T20I between India and Australia(AFP)

Once again, Travis Head timed the ball wonderfully and gave Australia a strong start in the chase. The left-hander made good use of the new ball and field restrictions to pierce gaps and hit a flurry of boundaries. He took Deepak Chahar, making a comeback to international cricket after a year, for 22 runs in the third over.

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India gained control of the proceedings as their spinners were introduced into the attack from the fourth over. Ravi Bishnoi cleaned up Josh Philippe with his first ball before Axar Patel got the all-important wicket of Head in the next over. Australia’s hero from the recent ODI World Cup final attempted a slog sweep but skied the ball to short-third.

Thereafter, Aaron Hardie and Ben McDermott were bowled by Axar as Australia were struggling at 87/4 by the 12th over. With the ball staying low at times, the left-arm spinner utilised the conditions effectively and kept targeting the stumps to return with figures of 3/16. Bishnoi, too, continued his good form and finished with 1/17.

Tim David and Matthew Short tried to get Australia back into the contest but neither of them could convert their starts. As India kept chipping away, it was left to skipper Matthew Wade to deliver something special. But Avesh Khan, with 31 runs to defend in the last over, remained calm and closed out the match and an impressive spell (1/33).

Earlier, Wade won the toss for the third time in a row. Both teams made plenty of changes to their lineups. Australia replaced Marcus Stoinis, Glenn Maxwell, Josh Inglis, Kane Richardson and Nathan Ellis with Short, Philippe, McDermott, Chris Green and Ben Dwarshuis. India had four changes – Prasidh Krishna, Arshdeep Singh, Tilak Varma and Ishan Kishan made way for Chahar, Shreyas Iyer, Mukesh Kumar and Jitesh Sharma.

It was another promising start with the bat for India, who had scores of 63/2, 77/1 and 43/2 at the end of the powerplay in the first three games. This time, they got to 50/1 thanks mainly to some fearless strokeplay by Yashasvi Jaiswal. The left-hander had the majority of the strike initially, with Ruturaj Gaikwad not facing a single delivery in the first three overs.

Once Australia dismissed Jaiswal with the last ball of the powerplay, India went on to suffer a mini collapse as two more wickets fell in quick succession. Iyer, featuring in the series for the first time, played a nothing shot to get caught in the deep. The right-hander swung hard despite getting nowhere near the pitch of the ball and handed debutant Green his first wicket in international cricket. Skipper Suryakumar Yadav perished two balls later, edging a delivery that was angled across by left-arm pacer Dwarshuis.

India fought back from thereon thanks to two partnerships involving Rinku Singh. The left-hander first added 48 runs with Gaikwad and then 56 with Jitesh. Gaikwad, who hit a brilliant century in the last game, had gotten off to another slow start and was dismissed just as it seemed he would cut loose again. Wicket-keeper batter Jitesh, playing just his fourth T20I, was his usual aggressive self and hit a 19-ball 35.

Unfortunately for the hosts, none of their batters carried on and got a half-century. Rinku, with scores of 22* and 31* earlier in the series, found himself at the crease much earlier than usual and did well to rotate strike along with the odd boundary, but he probably didn’t get enough strike towards the end and was trapped in front by a Behrendorff yorker.

It seemed India would get past 190 but they lost five wickets for just seven runs off the last nine deliveries of the innings. Eventually, though, it proved to be enough.


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