Melbourne, Feb 3: At last, India have a victory in the current Australian tour. Having waited for more than a month to taste success, MS Dhoni and his men won the second and final Twenty20 international against Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) on Friday.
[Scorecard: T20 India Vs Australia Melbourne]
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It was a different Indian side what we saw at the MCG. Their fielding was outstanding with Ravindra Jadeja scoring top marks in that department. Rightly, Jadeja won the Man-of-the-match award for his brilliance in the field.
Chasing 132 for a win, opener Gautam Gambhir led the way with a patient batting that ensured India's maiden success on the current tour. India reached the target in the final over of the match. The two-match series ended 1-1 after Australia had taken the opening encounter in Sydney on Wednesday by 31 runs.
It was also India's first triumph on foreign soil in 16 matches (including all three formats) since the tour of England last year. Since England, India had not won anything till Friday.
On the England tour it was 0-8, they lost the Test series 4-0 and a defeat in the only T20 international was followed by a 0-3 series loss to the home team in the five-match 50-over exchanges. In those five games, one ended in a tie and and other produced no result due to rain.
Here in Australia they halted a five-match losing streak starting with four Tests and one T20.
India finished with 135/2 in 19.4 overs. Gambhir remained unbeaten on 56 (60 balls, 4x4). Captain MS Dhoni was at the other end when Gambhir hit a boundary to achieve victory.
Dhoni made 21 off 18 balls with two boundaries.
Incidentally, there was only one six in the Indian innings. It came off Virender Sehwag's bat off left-arm spinner Xavier Doherty.
Virat Kohli, batting at number three, scored 31 in 24 balls with three boundaries.
India had to score at only 6.60 runs per over which is not a huge ask in the shortest format of the game. Their batsmen knew what was needed and did not attempt to go for big hits and preferred to play it safe by taking singles and doubles. When the opportunity came, they dispatched bad balls to the boundaries.
The very fact that there was only one hit over the boundary shows how calculated the chase was. That was the need of the hour and there was no need for aerial shots.
For the first time on the trip, India's openers were successful in raising a meaningful partnership. Sehwag (23) and Gambhir associated for 43 runs in 6.3 overs. This beginning set the ball rolling in a not-so-tough chase.
But the match was set up by the fielders and bowlers earlier in the evening in front of 62,275 fans which included a lot of Indians sporting Team India's blue jerseys.
It was here at the same ground where India commenced their journey of losses. On December 26, 2011, India faced Australia in the Boxing Day Test and lost the match and followed that with three more defeats. That resulted in a 4-0 whitewash.
A win here in the T20 format will certainly be a huge boost for the team as they head into the tri-series starting on February 5, Sunday.
India and Australia clash in the first match of the tri-series in Melbourne on Sunday. Sri Lanka is the other team in the tournament.
Australia Innings Report
A charged up India bowled Australia out for 131 in 19.4 overs.
India, seeking their first win of the tour, will have to score at 6.60 runs per over to reach the target in 20 overs. It is upto the faltering batsmen to get their act right and lead the team to success.
MS Dhoni and his team were in a different look altogether today as they effected four run outs with Ravindra Jadeja leading the way with two after Australia won the toss and opted to bat. Jadeja was also impressive with his bowling taking a wicket in his three-over spell.
In good batting conditions, Indian bowlers and fielders did exceptionally well to keep the home team to 131. India kept taking wickets at regular intervals and never allowed Australian batsmen to score freely.
It all started with Praveen Kumar, who removed two batsmen in the same over. Warner was caught by Gautam Gambhir for eight while Marsh was out for a duck.
Then Jadeja, one of the best fielders in the team, showed his brilliance to send Aaron Finch (36) and captain George Bailey back to the pavilion. Finch made 36 while Bailey was run out for three.
Australia were reduced to 54/4 in 8.3 overs. From this stage, there could not stage a recovery mainly due the excellent fielding from India. David Hussey (24) and Matthew Wade (32) were briefly involved in the rebuilding process but Jadeja ended Hussey's stay when he had him caught and bowled.
Legspinner Rahul Sharma took two wickets while Vinay Kumar had one. The most impressive aspect of the inning had to be India's fielding. To effect four run outs was testimony to Indian youngsters energy. The young legs have definitely made a rapid change and it is now left to the batsmen to deliver in pursuit of 132.
Australian captain George Bailey won the toss and elected to bat against India in the second and final Twenty20 international at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) here on Friday.
India have opted to go in with the same side that lost in Sydney while Australia made three changes. Shaun Marsh, Aaron Finch and Clint McKay came in for Travis Birt, Dan Christian and James Faulkner.
Bailey said the MCG wicket looked beautiful and reckons it is full of runs.
The right-handed Finch is likely to open the batting with David Warner. Matthew Wade, who batted at the top of the order in Sydney and scored 72, will move down.
Australia won the first T20 in Sydney by 31 runs. The home team had batted first and posted 171 for four in 20 overs and later restricted India to 140 for six on Wednesday.
Playing XIs: India: MS Dhoni (captain and wicketkeeper), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Praveen Kumar, Vinay Kumar, Rahul Sharma.
Australia: George Bailey (captain), David Warner (vice-captain), Xavier Doherty, Aaron Finch, Brad Hogg, David Hussey, Brett Lee, Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Clint McKay, Matthew Wade (wicketkeeper).
Umpires: Bruce Oxenford and Simon Fry (Both Australia)
Third Umpire: Paul Reiffel (Australia)
Match Referee: Andrew Pycroft (Zimbabwe)