Having lost the T20I series by 2-0 and with nothing to lose in the third and final T20I, hosts Australia came down all guns blazing in the dead-rubber duel as they managed to register a 12-run victory against India at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Tuesday. India’s unbeaten run of 10 T20I wins came to a halt but they emerged successful in finishing the year on a high with a series win in the T20 contests.
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Opting to bowl first, India conceded 186 runs in 20 overs, with Matthew Wade (80, 53b) and Glenn Maxwell (54, 36b) being the core-contributors to the Australian total. In response, retro-jerseyed India could contribute just 174 runs to the scorecard.
Speaking on the close defeat, skipper Virat Kohli, who scored 85 off 61 deliveries with 4 fours and 3 sixes, felt that the target looked chase-able when Hardik Pandya got few knocks off the boundary limits but their batting in the middle-overs cost them the game.
“At one stage when Hardik started going, we thought we could pull it off. The middle-over phase during our batting cost us the game. A partnership of 30-odd would have made it easier for Hardik,” Kohli said in the post-match presentation.
India was 2-0 down in the three-match ODIs but managed to bounce back since with three consecutive wins, starting with the third ODI at SCG and the first and second T20Is at Manuka Oval and SCG, respectively. The Men in Blue may have lost the 50-over series, but they managed to win in the 20-over series, and with that triumph under the belt, Virat Kohli became the first Indian captain to win a T20I series in South Africa, England, New Zealand and Australia. Not to forget, the 32-year-old Delhi-born is now the only Indian skipper to have won a series in ODIs, T20Is and Tests in Australian conditions.
“We are finding ways to come back and give the opposition a scare and the series win is a little asterisk for us to finish the 2020 season on a high. I feel the crowd was a factor as well, it’s always giving you a dimension of motivation. Our crowd pulls us through sometimes, and Australia’s too, and we as players feed off the crowd’s energy,” said the Delhi cricketer.
Up next, the mission for the tourists would be to retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in the Australian conditions and emulate a performance similar to the one essayed by them on their last tour. Though there have been few injuries in India’s Test squad, still, Virat is optimistic about the strength of their current unit and rates it better than the previous unit. Prior to the Tests, India will compete in the second Practice Test match that is scheduled to be played on December 11 at SCG.
“We need to take the same competitive attitude into the Tests, and having played here a few times, we can score runs as well. Once it is time to capitalize and score, we need to do that session by session.”
He added, “I am sure the current side is stronger than last time and I will see if I can play the tour match.”
Won’t mind getting the Man of the Series award, but it was a team effort: Hardik Pandya
All-rounder Hardik Pandya was adjudged as the Man of the Series for his 78 runs in 3 innings, averaging 39.00 and striking at a rate of 150-plus. Though he was used as a specialist batsman and didn’t bowl an over in the 20-over matches, he was effective with the bat in the opportunities received.
The 26-year-old Baroda cricketer, who was the Man of the Match in the second T20I, shared the mindset of the team that resulted in their comeback in the last four limited-over games.
“I am very pleased, and won’t mind getting the Man of the Series award, but it was a team effort. After the second ODI, we thought we would think of this as a 4-match series and we managed to get three wins, so happy with that.”
When asked jokingly if he is tired of giving interviews after the ODIs and T20Is, Hardik replied that he doesn’t mind them at all as he is on the winning side.
“I don’t mind giving interviews because you only have those when you are on the winning side,” he added.
The Border-Gavaskar Trophy is all set to kick start from December 17 with the first game, which is a day-night Test, at Adelaide Oval in Adelaide. The remaining three Test matches would be played in Melbourne, Sydney and finally Brisbane.