Virat Kohli was convinced and wanted to go upstairs but MS Dhoni didn’t look very sure and the review wasn’t taken. The India captain relies heavily on his predecessor on DRS matters because of the latter’s high success rate. But for once, at a very noisy Barsapara Cricket Stadium that made its international debut on Tuesday, Dhoni erred.
Australia had lost two wickets for 13 runs, chasing India’s modest 118 all out in the second T20 International in Guwahati. Moises Henriques, new to the crease, was beaten by a peach of a Bhuvneshwar Kumar out-swinger. The bowler looked certain about having a faint nick and so was his skipper, but Dhoni’s reaction was iffy and the umpire remained unmoved. Later, TV replays spotted a feather. Henriques was on two then and his team 24/2 after 4.4 overs. The Aussie finished on 62 not out off 46 balls, including four fours and four sixes, and added 109 runs with Travis Head (48 not out off 34) in an unbroken third-wicket partnership to take his side home. The visitors won by eight wickets with 27 balls to spare.
Throughout this limited-overs tour, Australia have looked edgy against the Indian spinners. But on Tuesday, Henriques played the tweakers well. A six off Kuldeep Yadav’s second ball gave him the psychological upper hand. Head also didn’t allow the spinners to settle. To be fair to Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal though, they struggled to grip the ball because of the dew. Henriques’ promotion at No. 3 eventually proved to be a tactical masterstroke but he wasn’t the star of the show.
The night belonged to Jason Behrendorff, a left-arm fast-medium bowler from Western Australia, who rattled the Indian top order with quality swing and seam bowling after David Warner won the toss and decided to bowl first on a pitch that offered plenty to the new-ball bowlers. A soft surface with moisture underneath also offered variable bounce.
Rohit Sharma, however, started off with two fours off Behrendorff, but the latter made an excellent comeback to dismiss the opener with a delivery that swung in late. Rohit was dead in front. Two balls later, Behrendorff had Kohli, when the ball bounced a bit more, caught the high part of the bat and lobbed back.
Manish Pandey took a four off Behrendorff. But once again the rookie – it was his second T20 International – responded superbly, bowling an outswinger and finding the outside edge, as Pandey played away from his body.
Shikhar Dhawan was done in by a blinder from Warner, who ran backwards and dived full-length to take a skier inches off the ground at deep mid-off. Behrendorff had his fourth wicket. He just missed out on a five-for, flooring a tough return catch from Kedar Jadhav off the final ball of his quota. But 4/21 was a runaway Man-of-the-Match performance. Behrendorff’s four overs had 17 dot balls.
“Jason has got the height and bounce, he comes from Perth and has the right attitude, which is key. Zampa was fantastic as well,” Warner said.
From 27/4 inside five overs, India’s recovery depended on Dhoni. Adam Zampa, however, made one turn sharply past Dhoni’s bat and an easy stumping ensued. Jadhav and Hardik Pandya also flattered to deceive. Warner’s captaincy was superb, and he never allowed the hosts an escape route. And Australia thoroughly outplayed their opponents to take the T20 series to the third and final match in Hyderabad – Warner’s ‘home ground’.
Brief scores: Aus 122 for 2 in 15.3 overs (Henriques 62*, Head 47*) bt India 118 all out in 20 overs (Jadhav 27, Behrendroff 4-21, Zampa 2-19) by 8 wickets