Australia keep 3-match series alive © AFP
Australia keep 3-match series alive © AFP

119 was a below-par target. The predictions had Australia as winners, but the Indians were not going to give in. They have been in such ominous form that if even they lose, they would not go down without putting a fight. The same reflected when they began the defence. The fielders were flying and whatnot, so they can help their bowlers save those extra runs. If anything, exceptional fielding unknowingly adds pressure on the batting side.

India’s will to keep Australia at bay forced David Warner into playing a false stroke. In no position to pull, he produced a leading edge to the pumped-up Virat Kohli. Playing fire with fire had begun. The ignition shot down another Australian in the next over. Aaron Finch found Kohli at cover as well. The pace duo of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah did what was asked of them, taking a wicket apiece. The scorecard read 13 for 2 in 2.5 overs.

Surprisingly, Australia sent Moises Henriques at No. 3 ahead of Glenn Maxwell. Perhaps Maxwell’s recent failure against Yuzvendra Chahal had triggered the move. The tactic was to steady the innings instead of scoring quick runs, and it paid off. Henriques (62*) added 109 runs with Travis Head (48*), taking Australia over the line by 8 wickets.

India’s wrist-spinners, Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav, could not weave magic as they did in the previous encounters. Hardik Pandya contained runs in his first over but was taken to the cleaners as and when Henriques and Head found their feet.

It was an uncharacteristic batting performance by India. Downed by Jason Behrendorff’s solid bowling, India lost their top 4 for a mere 27 runs. Virat Kohli went for his maiden duck in the format. MS Dhoni and Kedar Jadhav tried to resurrect the fallen innings but could only manage a 33-run stand — exactly what Pandya and Kuldeep managed between them. Adam Zampa outfoxed Dhoni with a sharp leg-break and knocked over Jadhav with a wrong ‘un.

Pandya, too, gave his all to lift India from the ruins. Eventually, his 23-ball 25 remained inadequate to register a respectable target. Behrendorff and Zampa took 6 wickets between them, conceding a mere 40 runs.

With this win, Australia remain alive in the series, making the third T20I a decider.

Brief scores:

India 118 in 20 overs (Kedar Jadhav 27; Jason Behrendorff 4 for 21, Adam Zampa 2 for 19) lost to Australia 122 for 2 in 15.3 overs (Moises Henriques 62*, Travis Head 48*; Bhuvneshwar Kumar 1 for 9) by 8 wickets with 33 balls to spare.

Player of the Man: Jason Behrendorff

Full scorecard