India wins T20 series as Pandya smashes sixes

By Kersi Meher-Homji

Cheered on by a full house at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG), Man of the Match Hardik Pandya hit two sixes in the final over as India won an exciting match to clinch the T20 series 2-0.

The match fluctuated in the final four overs as India needed 46 runs to win in 23 balls. But cometh the hour and cometh the super hitter; hard-hitting Hardik Pandya. It came down to the final over when India needed 14 to win.

As if saying “No worries”, Pandya hit debutant medium-pacer Daniel Sams for 2, 6 and 6 and the match was won. And with it the series.

Having won the toss, Virat ”˜King’ Kohli sent in an injury-ridden Australia in to bat. As their captain opener Aaron Finch was injured, wicket-keeper Matthew Wade took his place in both capacity as a skipper and an opening batsman.

And he flayed the Indian attack (without Jasprit Bumrah) in all directions, smacking 58 runs off only 32 balls. Then Steve Smith took over with an aggressive 46 and Australia recorded a challenging 5 for 194. The only Indian bowler to impress was young Thangarasu Natarajan who took 2 for 20 in four attacking overs.

India’s reply was equally aggressive reminding me of the old song, “If you can do it, we can do it better.” KL Rahul (30 runs) and Shikhar Dhawan (52) gave India a flying start of 56 runs off only 32 deliveries. The hunt was on with Kohli stroking 40 runs.

But when Kohli fell, India needed 46 runs off 23 balls. And no sword-swinging Jadeja in the team! But Pandya caused a “pandemic” among the Aussie attack and India was the winner.

It may be added that the Australian attack was weakened by the absence of their three best fast bowlers Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood.

At the presentation, hero Hardik explained his calm attitude in crises, “It’s pretty simple. I really like to see the scorecard and play. It lets you know the kind of shots and options you have. All my matches, I’ve realised you always have more time than you realise in T20 matches. No matter the target ”“ we’ve scored 80-90-100 in the last five [overs] before, and I take confidence from that. As a unit we believe in playing positive, it gives everyone a chance as well. I thought Natarajan would have been Man of the Match, he gave us a target of about 10 runs lower than it would have been.”

Kohli could barely hide his ecstasy as he said, “Yeah [our victory] meant a great deal. We’ve played as a team in T20 cricket. The fact that we don’t have Rohit and Bumrah ”“ our established white ball players ”“ and still doing well makes me happy. Everyone has played 14 games at least, recently – so they know what their plans are. We just kept Australia down to a total which we thought was quite chaseable with the short boundary. It is our contributions from the whole team that makes you feel better because young players are taking their opportunities. The reason Hardik coming into the team in 2016 was pure ability. He has raw talent. And now he realises that this is his time, the next four to five years, to be that bankable player that can win you games from anywhere. His plans are right and I’m glad to see that. We had a word before the game to ride the atmosphere, and the energy from the fans.”

The final T20 match starts at the SCG tomorrow night. See you there.


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