Hardik Pandya starred with the bat once again as India beat Australia by six wickets in the second T20I to clinch the three-match series with a match to go. Chasing an imposing target of 195, the Virat Kohli-led side crossed the finishing line with two balls remaining.
Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul gave India a good start by adding 56 runs off 32 balls for the first wicket. But once Rahul was dismissed, Australia managed to tighten the screw. The run-rate kept mounting and India lost Dhawan (52) and skipper Virat Kohli (40) at crucial junctures.
However, Shreyas Iyer (12*) and Hardik Pandya (42*) held their nerves and shared an unbeaten stand of 46 runs to take the team home. India needed 14 runs in the final over and Pandya scored all of them off Daniel Sams in just 4 balls. After taking a double on the first ball, the allrounder hit the pacer for two sixes to seal the game.
Earlier in the game, Australia finished their innings on an imposing total of 194 for 5. Stand-in skipper Matthew Wade top-scored for the hosts, scoring 58 off 32 balls while opening the innings. The likes of Steve Smith (46), Glenn Maxwell (22) and Moises Henriques (26) played crucial knocks too.
Here’s how Virat Kohli reacted:
Speaking after the game, Virat Kohli said he was proud of the team for the way it performed despite missing a couple of established players. He was all praise for the way Natarajan and Shardul performed and had special praise for Pandya’s finishing with the bat.
“We played really well as a team in T20 cricket. The fact that two of our established players are not playing and to win like this, makes me very proud of this team. Everyone has played 14 games recently (in the IPL) and they know their plans. Natarajan was outstanding and Shardul was good today. Hardik finishing off the game and Shikhar getting that fifty, it’s a whole team effort, said Virat Kohli.
“The reason for him (Hardik) to come into our team in 2016 was pure ability, he now realizes that this is the time to establish in that (finishing) role and play match-winning knocks for us. He plays with all his heart and he certainly got that competitive nature about him and also has the skill to execute that at the highest level,” he added.