Visakhapatnam, February 24: Australia defeated India by three wickets in a thrilling T20I here on Sunday (February 24). India managed only 126 for 7 in their 20 overs against Australia despite a half-century from comeback man KL Rahul. Save opener Rahul's 50 off 36 balls and Mahendra Singh Dhoni's unbeaten 29 off 37 balls, none of the other Indian batsmen could manage a significant knock.
For Australia, Nathan Coulter-Nile took 3 for 26 in four overs. Glen Maxwell top-scored for Australia with a 43-ball 56. For India, Jasprit Bumrah took three wickets as Aussies scraped home in the last ball of the match. Australia needed 14 runs off the 20th over to win the match but Umesh Yadav failed to blunt the visitors. Meanwhile, the Indian cricketers wore black arm band in respect to the Pulwama martyrs and also observed a minute of silence ahead of the match.
Earlier, back in the senior team after two-month wilderness due to his trash talk on a TV show, Rahul showed why he is rated highly during his 36-ball-50 but some indiscreet shot selection from his teammates meant that only 46 runs were scored in the back 10.
From a comfortable 80 for two in 9.5 overs, India lost four wickets for 20 runs by the 15th over to be reduced to 100 for six. Mahendra Singh Dhoni, played one of his signature dogged innings as he stemmed the rot with an unbeaten 29 off 37 balls but the total was definitely sub-par in the end.
The best partnership was 55 for the second wicket between Rahul and skipper Virat Kohli (24, 17 balls). Looking in his element, Kohli didn't get the required elevation as he stepped out to leg-spinner Adam Zampa only to find Nathan Coulter-Nile at long-on.
In the very next over, Rishabh Pant misjudged a single and Jason Behrendorff dived to his left and released the ball quickly for keeper Peter Handscomb to effect a run-out. The Indian innings was all about Rahul's flair as he repeatedly played the inside out lofted shot off pacers and the only six was a down the ground hit off Adam Zampa.
Rahul however could not convert his start and got out immediately after reaching his fifty in an over where Coulter-Nile (3/26) also breached Dinesh Karthik's defence with an off-cutter. At the start of the innings, Behrendorff dismissed Rohit (5) as early as in the third over with the Indian vice-captain trying the lap shot but only to give Zampa a simple catch at fine leg.
But things started to go in India's favour from the next over with Rahul and then Kohli scoring a flurry of boundaries. But in the end, Australia walked back to the hut with a smile.