Pandya’s valiant 71 goes in vain as Australia pips India in a high-scoring thriller
India suffered a body blow at the hands of the mighty 'Roos as the latter rode on some exultant batting display, courtesy Cameron Green, Matthew Wade, and Tim David conjuring a swashbuckling chase to condemn India to a painful defeat despite a solid show with the bat.
On a flat surface like that of Mohali, Finch won the toss and asked India to bat first. KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma shook off the initial jitters and started bringing out the heavy artillery. Just when it felt that the Indian captain would continue his dream run, RCB quick Josh Hazlewood got the better of the skipper. Virat Kohli couldn’t make himself at home either as he holed out Nathan Ellis to Cameron Green, looking to play his first big shot of the night.
Despite a couple of early whammies, India were soon back on their feet as KL Rahul and Suryakumar Yadav started controlling the proceedings with a neat string of strokes. The duo piled up 68 runs for the third wicket ere Josh returned to bag the in-form Rahul.
The fall of the Indian opener left very little impact on India’s belligerence as the onslaught continued, thanks to Suryakumar Yadav’s 360 batting and Hardik Pandya’s anchor at the other end. Once Yadav left for the pavilion, Hardik took it upon himself and started tormenting the Australian bowlers with one big stroke after the other.
Though the support was minimal from the other end, the Gujarat captain showed an exceptional blend of some steely mettle and crackling pyrotechnics that left Australia flattened. The final over of the innings produced a swashbuckling hat-trick of sixes for the Men in Blue as they piled up a staggering 208 on the cards.
Australia had blood on their mind right from the word go and a surprise entrant for opening, Cameron Green, started pulling the strings of destruction while Aaron Finch led the visitors emphatically. Axar Patel dealt the opening clout to the Australians but it did very little to deter their ambitions as Green carried forth with his battery while Steve Smith played the two to tango to the former’s ruthless aggression.
Despite the seamless advancements for the Australians early in the innings, it was once again Axar Patel who came back strongly to dampen the spirits of the visitors as he combined decently with Umesh Yadav, plundering 4 quick wickets that jeopardized the chase for Australia.
With 61 needed off the final five, the game was pretty much in the balance. Much to the Indians' dismay, Matthew Wade took over the reins while Tim David joined the party too. It was a show of firepower from both ends as India failed to break the partnership and Australia cruised past the finish line with the Indian bowlers stuttering in conditions tailormade for batting.
With the first game going in Australia’s favor, Rohit Sharma will have to rally his troops from the scratch. India will be up next in action against Australia on Friday at the VCA Stadium with all eyes on an equalizing enterprise.