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All-round India roars to T20I series win

Virat Kohli leads the show with the bat again before the bowlers, despite Aaron Finch’s 74, make it India’s day at MCG

All-round India roars to T20I series win - Cricket News
Virat Kohli celebrates after scoring his half century.
India resisted an Australian onslaught led by Aaron Finch as the bowlers once again stifled a chase that seemed on track after the batsmen had put up a sizeable total in the second Twenty20 International of their three-match series at Melbourne Cricket Ground on Friday (January 29).

The batting was led by Virat Kohli again, though, this time, he wasn’t the lone contributor with Rohit Sharma’s 60 off 47 and Shikhar Dhawan’s 42 off 32 setting the base.

Kohli finished with 59 not out off 33 as India racked up 184 for 3 after being put in to bat. That proved 27 too many for the Australians, who finished on 157 for 8, as India sealed a winning 2-0 lead in the series.

The result once again mirrored what India Women had done hours earlier, and ensured that despite a closely fought One-Day International series going 4-1 to the home side, the Indian men will not be returning home empty-handed.

Rohit began by being scoreless for his first nine balls and getting off the mark with a single off his tenth, as India were 12 without loss after three overs. That was when Shikhar cut loose as 17 runs were clattered off John Hastings’s second over, and India was up and away after that. Rohit found his bearings enough to race to 50 off 37 balls. Shikhar at the other end played the shot of the match, tilting his bat at the last minute to uppercut James Faulkner for six over the wicketkeeper’s head.

Only Shane Watson and Andrew Tye escaped the carnage by bowling intelligently – Watson hurrying the batsmen on occasion and keeping it in the channel, while Tye varied his pace and got his lengths right. A wicket fell against the run of play, Shikhar reverse sweeping Glenn Maxwell straight to Chris Lynn at point to leave India 97 for 1 in 11 overs.

In walked Kohli, and he showed that neither his form, nor his appetite for runs, had diminished a whit since his Man-of-the-Match turn in the first T20I at Adelaide. Rohit was run out after a mix-up with Kohli wherein the opener charged down for the second run without noticing that Kohli had put up his hand and not moved an inch.

With India 143 for 2 and only four overs left, MS Dhoni walked out at No. 4 once again. He didn’t have as much of a jaw-dropping impact as in the first T20I, where three balls brought him 11 runs, but he did his bit, while India hustled 41 runs off the last four overs despite a distinct lack of big hits.

Finch got Australia’s chase off to a scorcher, while Shaun Marsh was the decided second fiddle. The Australian openers, though, went better than India, racking up 94 runs in 9.5 overs before Marsh was out, hitting R Ashwin straight to Hardik Pandya at long-on.

Finch benefitted from two dropped chances off consecutive balls earlier in that same over; he could have been out for 62 off 34 and 64 off 35, but eventually made 74 off 48 with the two Dhawans – Rishi and Shikhar – fluffing their lines. But, by then, Australia had lost the plot.

Pandya accounted for an impatient Lynn, Yuvraj Singh had Maxwell charging out, beaten, and stumped with customary alacrity by Dhoni. Finch, hobbling through after appearing to hurt his hamstring while batting, was called through for a tight single by Matthew Wade and was found short of his crease. Ravindra Jadeja added two dismissals in between, one where he made his own luck and one where fate smiled on him. Watson had smashed the ball back when, to his utter disbelief, Jadeja plucked the ball out on his follow through even as Paul Wilson, the umpire, was ducking for cover. Jadeja’s second victim was Faulkner. The scorecard will show Faulkner was stumped, but the ball ricocheted off Dhoni’s pad on to the stumps.

With Faulkner gone, the score had tumbled to 137 for 7, and Australia had lost seven batsmen in 7.1 overs for the addition of just 43 runs. There was no way back for the home side.

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