It's not always that you score 160 at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium and feel you are 15 to 20 runs above par. But that's what Arshdeep Singh
said after India beat Australia by six runs in the fifth and final T20I
to take a 4-1 series win.
After being sent in, India hobbled to 160 for 8. In response, Australia were 144 for 7 after 18 overs, needing 17 from 12 balls with Matthew Wade
in the middle. Mukesh Kumar
gave away only seven in the 19th over, making it ten required from six balls.
Arshdeep, who had conceded 37 in his first three, bowled an excellent last over. After bowling two dots, though the first one should have been a wide for height, he had Wade holing out to long-on on the third to ensure India's win. The last time a team defended 160 or fewer
in a T20 at this venue was in 2017.
"I guess for the big part of the game, for almost the first 19 overs, I was thinking that I gave away too many runs and would be the culprit of the game," Arshdeep said on the official broadcast. "But god gave me another chance and I believed in myself. Thanks to god that I defended it and thanks to the staff as well who believed in me."
When asked what his thought process was for the final over, he said: "To be honest, nothing was going through my mind. Surya [Suryakumar Yadav] bhai told me that whatever happens, happens. The credit goes to our batsmen as well. They gave us a really good total here on a tricky wicket and we had a cushion of an extra 15 to 20 runs."
Before this match, Bengaluru had hosted seven T20s in 2023, all in the IPL. The average first-innings total in those games was 196. But this was not a typical Chinnaswamy pitch, which Ben McDermott
later called "sticky", because of the weather around. "I am not really sure what Chinnaswamy is normally like," McDermott, who was playing at the venue for the first time, said. "But I heard it was a really high-scoring ground but the rain coming in all day, these little sprinkles here and there kept it pretty moist. The outfield was quite soft as well. But coming in, it [pitch] looked beautiful, looked really nice but yeah, it was a little bit sticky."
In the first innings, legspinner Tanveer Sangha registered figures of 1 for 26. When it was India's turn, Axar Patel was the pick of the bowlers, conceding just 14 from his four overs while picking up the wicket of Tim David. Ravi Bishnoi, too, chipped in with 2 for 29.
"I feel 160 was the right total, which we got eventually. After losing consecutive wickets in the powerplay to get to 160, it was a commendable effort, and to defend it at the same time, brilliant performance by the team"
, whose 37-ball 53 had steered India to what they eventually got, agreed with Arshdeep's assessment.
"To be honest, my mindset was to go boom-boom from ball one," Iyer said. "But when I saw three wickets falling down, my mind started calculating what would be the best total on this wicket. Then I had a few batsmen contributing as well. It wasn't an easy wicket to bat on, but if you have a total in mind, you try to play accordingly and today was the right example of how we did it as a team.
"I feel 160 was the right total, which we got eventually. After losing consecutive wickets in the powerplay to get to 160, it was a commendable effort, and to defend it at the same time, brilliant performance by the team."
Still, it was not a perfect outing for India's seamers. They missed their lengths on multiple occasions and Arshdeep and Mukesh were lucky to get the wickets of McDermott and Matthew Short, respectively, off full tosses.
"According to the standards we have set as a bowling unit in the Indian team, it was not even near par," Arshdeep accepted. "But a lot of lessons learnt and, in the future, I will make sure to rectify those mistakes and come back stronger."
Hemant Brar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo