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Sunday, December 6, 2020

Hardik Pandya's soaring hits clinch T20 series at Sydney

For the Indian fan, a win always delights; more so, when it clinches a Series and .. this one at Sydney was too good, chasing a tall 195!

The Man of the Match was to say : It's pretty simple. I really like to see the scorecard and play. It lets you know the kind of shots and options you have. All my matches, I've realised you always have more time than you realise in T20 matches. No matter the target - we've got 80-90-100 in the last five before, and I take confidence from that. As a unit we believe in playing positive, it gives everyone a chance as well. I thought Natarajan would have been Man of the Match, he gave us a target about 10 runs lower than it would have been.

Outstanding for 2 aspects : 1) he gave his team-mate Natarajan the appreciations that he man playing only his 2nd match deserved and .. .. 2) he said 10 runs short ! – 195!  .. .. a couple of decade back, critics would have pounced on him calling him arrogant !  - not any longer, if you are Hardik Pandya ! .. .. and what a six it was !! – that he sent soaring to win with 2 balls to spare.

After winning the final match of ODI series (after rubber had been decided)- India has now won both the T20I which makes us feel happy.  Aussies were haunted by injuries and Indian team too ..   Mitchell Starc has been withdrawn from Australia's T20 squad on compassionate grounds due to a family illness and will miss the final two matches of the series. It has not been confirmed when Starc will rejoin the squad. The Test group is due to link up in Adelaide next week ahead of the opening match of the series on December 17.

Elsewhere, the  bio-bubble has burst. Of all the problems South African cricket faces at the moment, this is the one CSA wanted to avoid most. Their capacity to host international cricket has been compromised by what appear to be breaches of the bio-secure environment and now a tour hangs in the balance. After three positive cases of their own, South Africa's visitors England are waiting for ratification of two positive results on their side. If it is confirmed that members of the touring party have Covid-19, both them and their close contacts will have to quarantine in South Africa before returning home, something that could cut into festive season plans.

England have expressed concerns over the integrity of the teams' bio-secure bubble in South Africa, leaving the ODI leg of their tour in jeopardy, after a positive test for Covid-19 from the hosts' camp led to the first ODI being postponed on Friday. The match was called off an hour before the toss and has been rescheduled to Monday, with all players and hotel staff to be retested on Friday evening. However, South Africa have yet to determine how one of their players contracted the coronavirus and, although they maintain their confidence that the bio-secure environment works, a further round of tests scheduled for Friday afternoon may decide whether the three matches are able to go ahead. "There is a cause for concern and England has expressed a concern. England are questioning the confidence they have in the bio-secure environment and rightfully so," Dr Shuaib Manjra, CSA's chief medical officer, said. 

Back to Sydney, the score card would not reveal the real tense moments and happiness.  India 4 for 195 (Dhawan 52, Pandya 42*, Kohli 40) beat Australia 5 for 194 (Wade 58, Natarajan 2-20) by six wickets

Hardik Pandya's heavy hitting delivered India a T20I series victory over Australia and their third consecutive win of the tour to give the captain Virat Kohli something to show for his trip down under in an undulating encounter at the SCG.Kohli, KL Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan ensured India would be in the contest until its closing passages, whereupon Pandya lined up his scoring zones with brutal efficiency. Daniel Sams was defending 14 from the final over, but with a pair of towering blows beyond the straight midwicket boundary, India claimed the series with two balls to spare.

Two leggies in a T20 - Mitchell Swepson had struggled to drop onto the right length at Manuka Oval, having been called up at short notice, and dragged short of where he wanted to be as a result. He appeared far better adjusted to the T20I format this time around, and in combination with Adam Zampa seemed to have bowled the overs that were going to keep the touring side short of their target. Notable was the appearance of a wrong'un to deceive the otherwise fluent Sanju Samson, on a pitch that offered just enough grip to the slow bowlers.

However, as the chase evolved and India's batsmen found their range, the bowlers looked increasingly defenceless. Wade elected not to return to Abbott after his first two overs went for 17, a curious call given the fact that the SCG is his home ground, and relied upon Tye and Sams for the final two overs. Defending 25, they gave up the runs from 10 of the 12 balls required.  

The tourists were on the back foot when Virat Kohli was dismissed by debutant Daniel Sams in the 17th over; earlier KL Rahul and half-centurion Shikhar Dhawan gave them a solid start.  Sanju Samson played a nice little cameo but need to make a bigger score given his ability and the chances he is getting. .. .. and when the end was in doubt – Shreyas Iyer clobbered Adam Zampa for a monstrous six – 112 M !! (not too sure) that went upto 3 tiers and had everyone in Indian dressing room celebrating. Yet 14 off the last over of debutant Sams was a challenge – was it ? – when Hardik Pandya was at the crease.

The first one was a slower ball, sliding into the body. Pandya had no control, swished across, got  a thick inside edge to deep square leg's right and ran 2. Second was slammed over long on for a 6. Now was a comfortable 6 off 4 .. Sams beat Pandya with a smart bouncer following him down the legside and Hardik could not play his favourite upper slash cut.  Hardik Pandya to the delight of us all, slogged the 4th one over deep midwicket – the arc was so pleasing that one felt happier the moment it made contact with the ball that went soaring for a 6 and an Indian win, a Series clincher at that.

Earlier Mathew Wade leading the side gave a great start – T Natarajan playing only his second T20I bowled so well   (2-20) proving particularly difficult to get away and despite Marcus Stoinis, down at No.6, taking a hapless Deepak Chahar to town in the last over. India burst off the blocks in the run chase, taking 60 from the Powerplay, including 19 from a Glenn Maxwell over, as Dhawan motored to his 11th T20I half-century from 34 balls.  Swepson did not concede a single boundary in his four overs, a superb effort given one very short boundary to the iconic Ladies and Members Stand. Virat  Kohli played an audacious lap sweep off fast bowler Andrew Tye for six to leave the visitors needing 54 from the last five overs.

B u t, everything else was drowned in the din – those 2 shots of Hardik Pandya!

With regards – S. Sampathkumar 


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