Coasting on dazzling half-centuries by Suryakumar Yadav and Virat Kohli, India on Sunday chased down 187 against Australia in the 3rd T20I at Hyderabad to clinch the series 2-1.
The hosts lost their openers – Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul – early in the 187-run chase, but the formidable middle order consisting of Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav and Hardik Pandya saw them through in the tense chase.
Suryakumar once again demonstrated why he’s regarded as one of the best T20 batters at the moment by reeling off a 36-ball 69, which included five splendid sixes. The maximum off left-arm seamer Daniel Sams in the 10th over was jaw-dropping as he effortlessly lofted him over extra cover after skipping down the track.
In the 13th over, he whipped out a stunning ‘helicopter-shot’ and whipped the leg-spinner Adam Zampa over deep mid-wicket for a six to reach his fifty in just 29 balls. While he was typically outstanding square off the wicket, Suryakumar displayed a fine range of shots in front of square on both sides of the pitch as well. More importantly, he was always in tune with the required run rate and perceptively chose the right areas to hit his shots.
Kohli continued his good form, which he regained in the Asia Cup, and once again unsheathed an adroitly calibrated innings. His running between the wickets was supremely supersonic, and that was perhaps one of the factors behind the eventual outcome. Whenever he spotted an opportunity, Kohli stepped up on the gas and flayed four sixes.
Together, Kohli and Suryakumar cobbled up a 104-run partnership and strengthened India’s prospects. After Suryakumar’s dismissal, Hardik Pandya – who is arguably India’s most valued T20 cricketer at present – remained composed and finished the game with a flourish on the fifth ball of the 20th over by steering Sams for a boundary to third man.
Unsurprisingly, the redoubtable middle order is India’s biggest strength, which enabled them to win this series. But some of the problems are still snapping at their heels.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar once again came a cropper with the ball and conceded 39 runs in 3 overs. His bowling in the death overs was again dreadful as he was carted away for 21 runs in the 18th over. Jasprit Bumrah had an off-day and gave away 50 runs. Harshal Patel bowled just two overs.
The shoddy performance of seamers, especially during death-overs, has been one of India’s biggest follies for some time, and there’s no respite in sight at the moment. Expectedly, spinners Axar Patel – who grabbed three wickets – and Yuzvendra Chahal helped India bounce back in the middle overs after Cameron Green had disdainfully decimated seamers in the first five overs.
India’s fielding once again left a bit to be desired as Axar grassed a simple catch by Steve Smith in the 7th over off Hardik Pandya. Besides the dropped catch, there were a couple of instances of over-throws as well. While India managed to squeak home in this match, they have lost a few encounters recently due to slapdash catching.
KL Rahul’s failure in the last two matches has once again reared up the problem of the Top 3 as it is becoming increasingly difficult to accommodate Rahul, Rohit and Virat in the first three batting positions. While Rahul is notoriously inconsistent, even Rohit’s current T20I form is just about middling.
While the series win against Australia is a whiff of fresh air after the Asia Cup debacle, many problems remain to be sorted.