<
>

India fall short despite Dhawan, Karthik blitz

Australia 4 for 158 (Maxwell 46, Kuldeep 2-24) beat India 7 for 169 (Dhawan 76, Zampa 2-22) by four runs on DLS method

play
1:39

We had to target all the bowlers - Dhawan

The India talks about the team going after Adam Zampa, and planning better for the matches ahead

Australia overcame India and their own considerable self-doubts to claim a white-knuckle Twenty20 encounter at the Gabba, having granted India a late sight of victory in a rain shortened affair. Marcus Stoinis successfully defended 13 off the final over, after at one point India had required 70 from 32 balls.

Chris Lynn and Aaron Finch, the captain, had given Australia a fair platform, but it was Glenn Maxwell and Stoinis who provided the heft to an innings reduced by three overs due to a rain delay of more than an hour. Kuldeep Yadav bowled artfully for India, though his spin partner Krunal Pandya was taken for 55 damaging runs.

Shikhar Dhawan kept India in touch for the bulk of their pursuit, while the hosts fared far better against Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul and Virat Kohli - they managed just 24 off 28 balls between them. Left with an enormous salvage job, Dinesh Karthik and Rishabh Pant hammered out a stand of 51 from 23 balls to have every Australian at the ground biting what was left of their fingernails. However, Stoinis was able to keep composed, much as he had done in Adelaide for Australia's previous home win of the season, to take his side to a scrappy win.

Skipper versus skipper, Short versus Khaleel

Perhaps unsure about the surface, certainly unsure of themselves given a dismal 2018, Finch and D'Arcy Short began conservatively against the disciplined lines of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah; the first boundary did not arrive until the final ball of the third over. From the first of the fourth, India may have gained their reward for discipline: Finch aimed to punch Bumrah through cover, but crunched it straight at his opposite number Kohli. The chance burst through raised fingers and into his cap, demonstrating a well-struck shot but a catch that Kohli would have backed himself to claim.

Short, nursing a run of five scores no better than 10, seemed to be making absolutely sure of himself before starting to swing freely. But his intent to get established helped contribute to a sluggish start overall. Undoubtedly, he was feeling a measure of pressure by the time Khaleel Ahmed came on for the fifth over. So when the first ball arrived somewhere in the region of a hittable length, Short did swing for the straight boundary, but contact with the toe of the bat brought a skier and a fine, composed catch by Kuldeep Yadav, and a sixth consecutive tally in the decidedly underwhelming zone.

Kuldeep trouble and Maxwellball

Australia have struggled against Kuldeep, not least in a pivotal Test match in Dharamsala in 2017. This time, he came on just as Lynn, his IPL mate at Kolkata Knight Riders, was looking to accelerate in the company of Finch, who only managed to draw a wild swing and an edge skewed to backward point. While Lynn had managed to connect with a handful of blows familiar to Gabba spectators who watch him regularly for the Brisbane Heat, he was less decisive against Kuldeep, prodding forward to offer a return catch.

These wickets left Australia's innings in a state of some distress, but Maxwell was able to retrieve things in a judicious partnership with Stoinis. They were to take a particular toll on the slow left-arm of Pandya, who was deposited for three consecutive sixes by Maxwell in his third over, and another two - this time one each for Maxwell and Stoinis - in his fourth.

Helped by one Maxwell miscue that became a dead ball after hitting the camera suspended above the pitch by the broadcasters Fox Sports, the middle-order pair had well and truly pushed momentum back towards Australia when an hour of tropical rain all but ended the hosts' innings. They returned for five balls, losing Maxwell and cobbling just another five runs, to leave India chasing a revised target of 174 from 17 overs.

Dhawan's opening salvo

Deemed surplus to India's Test match requirements in Australia, Dhawan was still at the spearpoint of India's tour as an opener alongside Rohit Sharma in Brisbane. He was quickly into stride, too, delighting in the pace and bounce on offer after a couple of early plays and misses at Behrendorff's left-arm away swing. The purity and correctness of many of Dhawan's strokes, particularly his use of the pull shot to often devastating effect, made for a sharp contrast with several of the Australians, and underlined the quality in the Indian system that allowed for him to be omitted from the Test squad.

This is not to say that Dhawan's innings was faultless: he was dropped twice, a return chance to Zampa on 65 and then a hook shot spilled down at fine leg by the sub-fielder Nathan Coulter-Nile at 76. Such fortune afforded the opportunity for Dhawan to guide India home, but instead he was wandering off with 70 runs still required from 32 balls - a steep ask.

Zampa stakes claim, Finch miscalculates

Not a regular in the white-ball side in recent times, Zampa was included at the expense of Coulter-Nile with the hope that he could extract some bounce and zip off the Gabba pitch. Quickly dropping onto a length, he was soon drawing false strokes, and in his second over won a stumping verdict against KL Rahul that had only a millimetre in it. If Indian supporters were rejoicing at the wicket bringing Kohli to the crease, they were to be silenced when Zampa succeeded in tying down India's captain and then claiming his wicket with a dipping top spinner that brought a top edge into the hands of short third man.

Zampa's excellent spell and Dhawan's subsequent dismissal left India facing a scenario of enormous difficulty, but the innings took a twist when Finch appeared to forget that under the reduced over allocation, he only had two bowlers able to bowl four overs rather than three.

Tossing the ball to Billy Stanlake, he was advised by the umpires that of the bowlers already used only Andrew Tye and Stoinis were available, meaning the ball was passed on to the former. Perhaps surprised to be running in, Tye was leapt into by Karthik and Pant to the tune of 25 runs. That over turned the target from distant to gettable, setting up a thrilling final over of the night.

Finch, while relieved to win, conceded his maths had been faulty: "I just stuffed it up out there."