Of all the 22 players on the field, the pressure was supposed to be most on Yuvraj Singh. Making a return to the international cricket, he was the man on test. And, he walked in to a tense situation in the game, with his team lagging in run-rate and down by three wickets.
A few balls later, it was the Australians who were feeling the heat, and his critics scurrying away for cover.
The dashing left-hand batsman from Punjab marked his comeback with a stunning display of hitting to prove that he had lost none of the steel in his wrist, the footwork remained quick and the timing breathtaking.
He remained not out on 77 (35 balls, 8 fours, 5 sixes) as India crossed the target in 19.4 overs, the knock proving once again that he is still the matchwinner who had powered India to glory in the 2011 World Cup.
The wicket was flat, the outfield lightning quick and a run-feast was on the offing at the Saurashtra Cricket Association’s ground at Rajkot. And, Australia set the stage in the Twenty20 international by posting 201 for seven on the board. Aaron Finch was the man of the Australia innings, scoring 89 off 52 balls.
When at the end of the 13 overs, India needed 87 off 42 balls, the Australians had the game in their grasp. Yuvraj till then was feeling his way back into the contest, moving to 14 off 11 balls. It was when the left-hander decided to take things in his own hand and what followed was a display of dazzling strokes.
He started by hammering two sixes and four off Clint McKay and following it up with back-to-back fours off Coulter-Nile. Soon, his 50 was reached in 25 balls (six fours, three sixes), before tearing apart the rest of the Australian attack to shreds as India coasted to a thrilling six-wicket win.
However, the late heroics couldn’t mask India’s poor show in the field. Ashwin was surprisingly the most expensive bowler. The off-spinner ended up conceding 41 off two overs.
India’s pace duo of Bhuvaneshwar Kumar and Vinay Kumar were their most successful bowlers, pegging back Australia at regular intervals with three wickets apiece. At 84 for three and 146 for five, it looked like India could pull things back but Finch thwarted the big both times.