Three victories in three matches have etched India’s name irrevocably in cricket’s folklore. India not only won their first-ever bilateral series in Australia, they also completed a historic whitewash Down Under on Sunday.
India once again rode on their top-order heroics, powered by half-centuries from Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli and a brilliant 49-run knock from Suresh Raina, to chase down a towering target of 196 set by Australia in a scintillating finish in the 3rd Twenty20 at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
If it was Shane Watson’s century that propelled Australia to a mountain score of 195 for 5 in 20 overs, the script of India’s successful run chase was written by Rohit’s 38-ball 52, Kohli’s 36-ball 50 and Raina’s unbeaten 49 off 25 balls.
With the historic whitewash, the Indian team climbed to no. 1 spot in the ICC T20 team rankings. India had already won the 1st two T20s in Adelaide and Melbourne.
Seasoned Indian allrounder Yuvraj Singh too rose to the occasion and made a 12-ball 15 under pressure to power India to win in a last-ball finish. Earlier, Watson punished a ordinary Indian bowling to take Australia to a commanding total.
The veteran allrounder, who retired from Test cricket last year, didn’t spare a thought for a single Indian bowler and hit 10 fours and half a dozen of sixes, carrying his bat through the innings after winning the toss.
Watson hit the Indian bowlers to all corners of the SCG. Middle-order batsman Travis Head was the next most successful scorer with 26 runs off 19 balls.
Indian bowlers, who were impressive in the first two matches of the series, could do little to stop the Australian batsmen who hit a total of 16 boundaries and 7 sixes in their innings.
Spin twins Ravichandran Ashwin (1/36) and Ravindra Jadeja (1/41) gave away 77 runs in their quota of eight overs together.Watson opened the innings with Usman Khawaja, who came in place of injured Aaron Finch and the duo straightaway got off to a brisk start. Watson was especially severe on Jasprit Bumrah, hitting his two overs for 26 runs.
Nehra got India the first breakthrough when he sent back Khawaja in the 3rd over, caught behind for 14. However, Watson continued his onslaught as the Australia reached the 50-run mark in the 6th over.
Watson stitched a 50-run partnership with Shaun Marsh (9) before the left hander had his stumps shattered when he went for a mistimed slog sweep.
Marsh’s dismissal brought another big-hitting allrounder, Glenn Maxwell, in to the crease. But Maxwell (6) hardly troubled the scorers and holed out at short cover to Suresh Raina off Yuvraj Singh’s bowling.
Travis Head then joined Watson in the middle and provided the required muscle. The duo shared a 93-run stand for the fourth wicket.
Watson also made India pay for few of the misfields. Watson was batting on 56 and on the second ball of the 13th over, he mishit a wide ball from Hardik Pandya towards Kohli, who dropped the catch at deep cover. Watson cracked two fours in the same over.
In the 15th over, skipper Dhoni failed to collect a throw from Pandya, failing to run Watson out as the batsman tried to complete his second run.
Watson took full advantage of it and hit two sixes off left-arm spinner Jadeja and one off Ashwin before completing his maiden hundred in 58 balls.
After reaching to his hundred, he again hit Jadeja for a six and one off Nehra as Australia scored 117 runs in the final 10 overs.
Watch: India VS Australia 3rd T-20 Highlights