Australia 186 for 5 (Wade 80, Maxwell 54, Sundar 2-34, Natarajan 1-33) beat India 174 for 7 (Kohli 85, Swepson 3-23, Zampa 1-21) by 12 runs
Mitchell Swepson‘s variations and Adam Zampa‘s control on a used SCG pitch threw India’s pursuit of 187 off track and denied them a 3-0 sweep in the T20I series. Swepson did not concede a single boundary and took out three of India’s top five while senior legspinner Zampa returned in the 18th over to effectively kill the chase by drawing a top edge from previous match-winner and finisher Hardik Pandya.
ALSO WATCH: Match highlights – Kohli smashes 85, but Wade, Maxwell set up win for Australia (India subcontinent only)
Virat Kohli was reprieved at least three times, on a day where both sides’ fielding veered from ordinary to extraordinary, but he couldn’t turn his 85 off 61 balls into a match-winning effort. Kohli holed out off Andrew Tye at the start of the penultimate over, with late blows from Shardul Thakur and Washington Sundar only drumming up some artificial excitement.
Tom Moody says India’s middle order still remains a concern
It was the pair of Matthew Wade and Glenn Maxwell that set up Australia’s victory, punishing a sloppy Indian side with their muscle and innovation. Wade’s innings could have been cut short at 50 had India’s review of an on-field not-out lbw decision not been declared “null and void” after left-arm seamer T Natarajan pinged the opener’s front pad. Wade went onto convert his second successive fifty into a career-best 80 off 53 balls. Maxwell, who got at least two lives, rolled out his trademark trick shots on his way to 54 off 36 balls. Natarajan proved the point of difference in India’s attack once again, reining in Australia at the death, but ultimately Swepson and Zampa saved the day for them.
Wade, Maxwell fire
Australia’s white-ball captain Aaron Finch returned to lead the team after missing the second match with a glute strain, but lasted just two balls, with Sundar removing him with a 101kph dart. Wade, who retained his place at the top, saw off the early swing from Deepak Chahar and then began lining up the short deliveries to the boundaries. Sundar was swatted over midwicket as was Chahar, with Wade claiming 34 of the 51 runs Australia made in the powerplay.
ALSO WATCH: Video highlights – Kohli falls after 61-ball 85 (India subcontinent only)
Sundar could have got Steven Smith too, on 18, with a 100-plus kph dart, but wicketkeeper KL Rahul missed a stumping. Smith added six to his tally before Sundar bowled him with a loopy offbreak. Maxwell then united with Wade and put on 90 off 52 balls. Chahal has had plenty of success against Maxwell in the past, but the batsman messed with his lines and mind with a variety of reverse-hits. And when Chahal did beat him in flight, Maxwell still adjusted and scooped him over long-on for six. Maxwell aced the match-up on Tuesday, taking 21 off nine balls at a strike rate of 233.33. Maxwell also cracked 21 off Thakur although at a lower strike rate. He produced the shot of the day when he jumped across off, fetched a wide length ball from Thakur and shovelled it – like only he can – over the midwicket boundary.
The partnership, however, ended when Thakur trapped Wade with a slower dipping yorker in the 19th over. Natarajan then castled Maxwell in the final over to keep Australia to 186 for 5.
Kohli leads the chase
Maxwell wasn’t done yet. He struck in the first over of the chase to dismiss Rahul for a duck and gave up only 20 in his three overs. Shikhar Dhawan and Kohli then worked past the early blow, with the India captain doing most of the heavy-lifting. Kohli walked down the track to Sams and whipped him for four before belting Sean Abbott to the left of mid-off. He reached his fifty off 41 balls and despite a rapidly rising asking rate, he gave his side hope when he hit back-to-back sixes off Sams in the 16th over. Pandya then picked apart Tye, bringing the equation down to 43 off 18 balls.
ALSO WATCH: Video highlights – Natarajan ends Maxwell’s innings (India subcontinent only)
Legspin to win
Zampa, though, found turn and bounce to have Pandya miscue a catch to short third man for 20 off 13 balls. Swepson had made a bigger expression, getting rid of Dhawan, Sanju Samson, and Shreyas Iyer. After conceding just six singles in his first over, Swepson struck in the second, having Dhawan holing out to deep midwicket. He then varied his pace and trajectory cleverly against Kohli, denying him any swinging room. All up, Kohli managed only 17 off 14 balls from Swepson. That India couldn’t score a single boundary for more than six overs was down to Swepson and Zampa.
Kohli ended that dry spell when he hoisted Abbott for six in the 14th over, but by then Samson and Iyer were also gone. While Samson couldn’t get hold of a dipping full-toss, Iyer failed to read a wrong’un that zipped off the pitch. There would be no way back for India.