Arshdeep's final over helps India win as Suryakumar and Co. claim Australia T20I series 4-1
Australia needed 10 runs in the last over, but the seamer gave away only 3 runs and took a wicket, helping the hosts win the last game by six runs.
On what was an uncharacteristic Bengaluru pitch that offered plenty of assistance to the bowlers, India delivered a gritty performance to beat Australia by six runs in a thrilling fifth T20 International and claim the series 4-1 on Sunday.
Shreyas Iyer, who fell cheaply in the previous game, stepped up this time and scored a well-paced 53 (37 balls, 5x4, 2x6) to take the hosts to 160/8. India did well collectively with the ball to keep chipping away with wickets before Australia skipper Matthew Wade took the game down to the wire.
But with 10 runs to defend in the last over, left-arm pacer Arshdeep Singh held his nerves to dismiss Wade and concede just three runs, restricting the visitors to 154/8.
With Australia fielding a relatively inexperienced batting line-up, a lot depended on World Cup hero Travis Head in the chase. The left-hander started strong once again and struck a flurry of boundaries even as pacer Mukesh Kumar cleaned up Josh Philippe at the other end.
But then came the big moment in the fifth over as Ravi Bishnoi rattled Head’s stumps (28 – 18 balls, 5x4, 1x6). It was a quick googly that beat the star Aussie opener all ends up. The leg-spinner followed that up with the wicket of Aaron Hardie two overs later to put India in the driver’s seat.
Bishnoi, who finished as the leading wicket-taker in the series, completed another top spell with figures of 2/29, taking his tally to nine wickets in five games.
Australia fought back as Ben McDermott (54 – 36b) and Tim David (17) added 47 runs from 37 balls, but Axar Patel (1/14) returned to the attack for his final over and broke the partnership. McDermott hit five sixes and no four in his innings to get to the half-century before Arshdeep sent him packing in the 15th over.
Wade, along with Matthew Short, kept the contest alive and it seemed Australia would manage to cross the line. But Mukesh dismissed Short and Ben Dwarshuis off consecutive deliveries in the 17th over before Arshdeep showed great composure in the end.
Earlier, for the fourth match in a row, Wade won the toss and opted to bowl. Both teams had one change each – India replaced Deepak Chahar with Arshdeep, while Australia brought in pacer Nathan Ellis for off-break bowler Chris Green.
On a pitch that had spongy bounce and afforded considerable spin, India lost their first six wickets with catches taken in the outfield. For the third time in the series, Yashasvi Jaiswal (21 – 15b, 1x4, 2x6) got off to a brisk start but couldn’t convert it into a big one. The left-hander stuck to his role and and hit some quick boundaries, but like the last game top-edged the pull shot and found the fielder.
India were 33/0 after 3.5 overs but suffered a mini-collapse thereafter and lost three wickets in 18 balls. Ruturaj Gaikwad (10), who had struck a century in the third T20I, played an unexpected loose shot and was caught at mid-off. Skipper Suryakumar Yadav (5) came in next and struggled to find the middle of the bat. He was dropped at backward point off the second delivery he faced but was caught at the same position five balls later.
Rinku Singh, who had impressed earlier in the series, also perished quickly and India found themselves in trouble at 55/4 in the 10th over. Then came two partnerships that took India towards what proved to be a match-winning total.
Iyer, who had walked in at No. 3, played a smart knock to keep the Indian innings together. The right-hander can tend to be a bit too aggressive early in his innings but with the pitch posing a challenge, he picked his moments patiently this time. He added 42 runs for the fifth wicket with Jitesh Sharma and 46 with Axar Patel.
Both wicketkeeper Jitesh Sharma (24 off 16) and Axar (31 off 21) went hard to give India the push they needed in the death overs. The hosts did well to score 99 runs in the second half of their innings, which propelled them to an above-par total.
India 160/8 (S Iyer 53, A Patel 31, J Behrendorff 2/38, B Dwarshuis 2/30); Australia 154/8 (T Head 28, B McDermott 54, Arshdeep 2/40, M Kumar 3/32, R Bishnoi 2/29). India won by 6 runs.
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