India registered their first ever bilateral series triumph on Australian soil as they clinched the Twenty20 rubber by taking an unassailable 2-0 lead with an impressive 27-run victory in the second match in Melbourne on Friday.
Put in to bat, India relied on brilliant innings by Rohit Sharma (60) and Virat Kohli (59), along with a useful 42 by opener Shikhar Dhawan, to post a formidable 184/3.
Defending the target, the Indian bowlers put up a fine collective effort to rip through Australia’s middle order and restrict the hosts to 157/8 in 20 overs.
The Indians thus took a 2-0 lead in the three-match series, which ends on Sunday in Sydney. This was India’s first ever bilateral series win Down Under. The Indians had earlier won a tri-series in 2007-08 and the Benson and Hedges World Championship in 1985.
The triumph is a remarkable turnaround for the Indians, who suffered a humiliating 1-4 debacle in the preceding ODI series.
In today’s match as well, it was a turnaround of sorts by the bowlers, who withstood the early onslaught to make good recovery.
Chasing 185, Australia got off to a rollicking start as Shaun Marsh (23) paired up with skipper Aaron Finch (74 runs, 48 balls, 8 fours, 2 sixes) at the top.
India opened with Ashish Nehra (0-34) and Jasprit Bumrah (2-37), but instead of rotating the bowlers at the beginning like in Adelaide, the two were persisted with for the first six overs.
And they bled runs as the 50-mark came up for Australia in 31 balls. As soon as the power play got over though, Ravindra Jadeja (2-32) was brought into the attack and things started happening, though not in India’s favour. Mahendra Singh Dhoni missed a regulation stumping of Marsh, while at the other end Finch completed his 6th T20I fifty off just 27 balls, bringing it up with a six off R Ashwin (1-27).
Thereafter, Finch survived thrice, enjoying dropped catches in two overs, one each by Umesh Yadav, Rishi Dhawan and Shikhar Dhawan, in the ninth and 10th overs respectively. The bowlers continued to suffer and the only bright spark was when Hardik Pandya finally caught Marsh at long on.
It was also perhaps the turning point. The all-rounder removed Chris Lynn (2) in the next over, caught behind. Yuvraj Singh (1-7) had Glenn Maxwell (1) stumped in the 12th over, Dhoni not missing this time.