Melbourne: India dominated with both bat and ball to beat Australia by 27 runs in the second Twenty20 International at the Melbourne Cricket Ground here on Friday.
India rode on half-centuries from Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli to post 184/3 in their 20 overs. In reply, the Australians could only manage 157/8 despite being given a superb start by Aaron Finch. The Indians have thus clinched the three-match series with an unassailable 2-0 lead.
Left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja (2/32) and young pacer Jasprit Bumrah (2/37) were the most successful among the Indian bowlers. Yuvraj Singh (1/7), Hardik Pandya (1/17) and Ravichandran Ashwin (1/27) also bagged a wicket each. Chasing a challenging target, the hosts were off to a flying start with Finch going great guns. The Australian captain smashed 74 runs off 48 deliveries with eight boundaries and a couple of sixes. Shaun Marsh was going steady at the other end, scoring a run-a-ball 23.
The Australians were cruising comfortably along at 10 runs an over, but the fall of Marsh’s wicket in the 10th triggered a collapse. Chris Lynn (2) and the dangerous Glenn Maxwell (1) were sent back by Hardik Pandya and Yuvraj Singh respectively as the Australians lost three wickets in as many overs which pegged back their momentum.
Finch and Shane Watson tried to re-build the innings, but Ravindra Jadeja sent back Watson in the 15th over with a stunning return catch off his own bowling. Finch, who was struggling with a cramped hamstring, was run out in the next over as the Indians tightened their grip on the match. Earlier, put in to bat by the hosts, India were provided a steady start by Rohit and Dhawan. The duo were a bit cautious in the first three overs before going after the Australian bowlers.
Rohit continued his superb form during the ongoing tour, scoring 60 runs off 47 balls with five boundaries and a six. He added 97 runs for the opening partnership along with Shikhar Dhawan (42). Kohli walked in at the fall of Dhawan’s wicket and proceeded to build on the solid foundation provided by the openers by belting 59 runs in his 33-ball innings which included seven boundaries and a six.
Dhawan was also in excellent form, hitting three fours and two sixes during his 32-ball stay in the middle. He missed out on his maiden half-century in T20Is when a reverse sweep off Glenn Maxwell found Lynn at point.
For Australia, Maxwell had figures of 1/17 while debutant medium-pacer Andrew Tye captured the prized wicket of India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni to return 1/28 in his four overs. Rohit and Dhawan reserved special treatment for James Faulkner. Rohit hit the left-arm pacer for three boundaries in his very first over after replacing Shane Watson in the Australian attack. Dhawan then smashed a four and a six off consecutive balls in his very next over.
Dhawan’s departure did not affect the run rate as Kohli and Rohit continued to find the gaps at regular intervals. However, an unfortunate bit of mis-communication saw Rohit being run out while attempting to go for a second run. Dhoni then gave Kohli good support from the other end with 14 runs off nine balls as the Delhi batsman signed off the Indian innings on a strong note.