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Dhawan, Pandya fire India to T20I series victory

Aus v Ind, 2nd T20I, report

Shikhar Dhawan (52) and Hardik Pandya (42*) blasted important knocks to help India chase down 195 and secure the T20I series victory over Australia.

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Despite 58 from Matthew Wade paving the way for a big Australia total, Dhawan kept India in the chase before a late show from Pandya got the visitors across the line.

Needing 14 from the final over, the 27-year-old held his nerve to launch two enormous sixes off the bowling of debutant Daniel Sams, picking up his highest T20I score in the process to give India a six-wicket win and an unassailable 2-0 series lead. 

Australia got off to a flying start to the contest as Wade thrashed three fours off Deepak Chahar and he continued his quick-hitting to help the hosts to 46/0 from four overs. However, T Natarajan came into the attack and removed D’Arcy Short (nine) with his third ball as birthday boy Shreyas Iyer took the catch.

Wade continued to whack the ball around on his way to a 32-ball 58, despite being dropped by Pandya at the end of the Powerplay. He finally perished after a leading edge to Virat Kohli was somehow dropped, but the India skipper kept his composure to launch the ball to the stumps as Wade was caught in no man’s land after a mix-up with Steve Smith.

Shardul Thakur removed the dangerous Glenn Maxwell for 22 from 13 balls but Smith and Moises Henriques continued to find the boundary with some lusty blows until Yuzvendra Chahal had Smith caught in the deep by Pandya. The wicket was Chahal’s 59th in T20I cricket and put him level with Jasprit Bumrah as India’s highest wicket-taker in the men’s format.

Natarajan had Henriques caught by KL Rahul for 26 from 18 balls but a late flurry from Marcus Stoinis (16 from seven balls) and Sams (eight from three balls) propelled the home side to a very competitive 194/5.

Rahul and Dhawan made a steady start in reply and Andrew Tye’s first two balls of the third over rapped both players on the pads. The pair took the rest of the over for 14 before blasting 19 off Maxwell and 13 off Sean Abbott as they got India on track, before Rahul found Mitchell Swepson at deep point to hand Tye his first wicket.

Dhawan, who turned 35 the day before the game, struck his 11th T20I half-century but perished quickly after, skying Adam Zampa to Swepson in the deep.

Swepson was among the action again as his tight bowling forced Sanju Samson into trying the big shot and he was caught by Smith at long-off.

With 46 needed from four overs, debutant Sams came back into the attack and bowled a slow and short wide ball which Kohli reached at, clipping it to wicket-keeper Wade, as the Australians picked up a key wicket.

Pandya and Iyer delivered some crucial boundaries to keep India in the contest, leaving them with 14 to win from the final over, but Pandya landed two mammoth sixes to seal the win with two balls remaining.

The two teams will play the third and final T20I on Tuesday in Sydney, with a win for India enough to see them overtake Australia and claim No.2 on the MRF Tyres ICC T20I Team Rankings.

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