Matthew Wade’s T20I career-best 80 from 53 balls and three wickets for Mitchell Swepson helped fire Australia to a 12-run victory in the third and final T20I against India in Sydney.
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Wade and Glenn Maxwell (54 from 36) combined to put a competitive total on the board and despite a magnificent 61-ball 85 from Virat Kohli, a super spin spell from Swepson saw him take the big wickets of Shikhar Dhawan, Sanju Samson and Shreyas Iyer to help Australia finish on a winning note, while the tourists took the series 2-1.
With the hosts batting first, Washington Sundar got an early breakthrough as Pandya caught Aaron Finch in the second over but six fours from Wade in the Powerplay helped the hosts reach 51/1.
The Indian attack did well to keep the scoring rate down and Sundar (2/34) caused the damage again as he bowled Steve Smith for 24 in the 10th over.
In the next over, T Natarajan trapped Wade in front but the Indians didn’t ask for the review in time. Replays showed that, had the decision been reviewed, it would have been out.
Maxwell was caught by KL Rahul off Yuzvendra Chahal in the 15th over but the India spinner had overstepped for a no-ball, and the Aussie big-hitter was later dropped twice off the bowling of Shardul Thakur.
Wade, the only Australia wicket-keeper to score a fifty in T20Is, delivered some lusty blows on his way to his highest-ever T20I score before he perished in the penultimate over, LBW to Thakur.
Maxwell’s luck finally disappeared on the first ball of the final over, as Natarajan cleaned up his stumps. That brought D’Arcy Short (seven) to the crease, who hit a two and a four before being run out by sub fielder Manish Pandey when trying to complete a two.
Australia managed 186/5 and in reply, India got off to a horrid start. Rahul departed with just the second ball of the innings as Maxwell had the India opener caught at long-on by Smith. In Maxwell’s next over, the Maxwell-Smith combination almost paid off again but the latter dropped the India skipper on nine, leaving the hosts wondering whether it would be a costly mistake.
Andrew Tye then put down a Kohli caught-and-bowled chance just two overs later. Australia were made to pay as Kohli and Dhawan picked off the boundaries to reach 55/1 at the end of the Powerplay, but Swepson came into the attack and struck to remove Dhawan (28) in his second over, as Daniel Sams fumbled but managed to hold on to take a good catch in the deep.
Kohli soon went to his seventh fifty against Australia in T20Is – the most fifty-plus scores a player has recorded against one team in the format.
In another eventful Swepson over, Sanju Samson (10) punched a low full toss to the hands of Smith at long-on and two balls later, Kohli sent one that looked to be going over Smith’s head – only for the Australian to produce a magical piece of fielding as he leapt over the ropes, tossing the ball back into play. Kohli ended up with just three runs instead of six for his effort and, before the over was out, Swepson trapped Shreyas Iyer in front for a golden duck. His 3/23 were his best international figures to date.
At 100/4 from 13 overs, the pendulum appeared to swing in the favour of the home team but Kohli hit back-to-back sixes off Sams, and Pandya produced a remarkable shot to finish a big 16th over to keep the tourists in the hunt. Pandya then struck a four and punched a six straight down the ground off Tye but with the home side under pressure, Adam Zampa returned for the 18th over to remove the dangerous finisher, who mistimed it to Finch at short third man.
Zampa almost removed Kohli with the last ball of the 18th, but the next over, Kohli found Sams running in from the cover-point boundary to take an excellent catch off the bowling of Tye.
India were left with a bit too much to do in the final over as Sean Abbott had Sundar caught by Tye and although Thakur cleared the fence, India could only reach 174/7 in reply, ending an entertaining series.
The two teams meet again in the first Test on Thursday, 17 December in Adelaide.
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