Cameron Green blitzed a 26-ball half-century in his first innings as an opener and Matthew Wade provided the finishing kick as Australia hunted down 209 at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium, to go 1-0 up after a four-wicket, in the three-match series.
Green unleashed blasted a 30-ball 61 to lay the platform for Australia’s challenging chase. Axar Patel then applied the brakes on Australia with figures of three for 17 from four overs, but Wade accelerated in the death overs to seal the win with four balls to spare.
It was Australia’s second-highest successful chase in T20I cricket. Although both Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli fell early, India kept attacking through KL Rahul, Suryakumar Yadav and Hardik Pandya. Rahul took on the pace of Josh Hazlewood and Green while Suryakumar picked off 22 runs off nine balls from legspinner Adam Zampa.
Rahul went on to notch up a half-century off 32 balls in the 11th over, but in the next, Hazlewood returned to dismiss him. Yadav unfurled some delightful pick-up shots and punches before Green found extra bounce and cut his innings short at 46 off 25 balls.
The placid track and incredible ball-striking formed the ingredients of a Hardik special. He smashed an unbeaten 71 off 30 balls to propel India beyond 200.
He reached fifty off 25 balls at the end of the 19th over and with only No.8 Harshal for company, he farmed the strike in the last and closed out the innings with three consecutive sixes, all-rounder Green’s final over leaking 21.
Nathan Ellis impressed, however, returning three for 30 in his four overs, including the key wickets of Kohli and Dinesh Karthik.
Green might not have even played had Marsh or Marcus Stoinis been fit, but he seized his opportunity, giving Australia the blistering start they needed. He sent his first four balls — all from Umesh Yadav — for fours.
Green was similarly strong against spin as well, taking Yuzvendra Chahal for 21 off a mere eight balls. He got a life on 42, when Axar dropped him at deep midwicket. He then added 19 to his tally before Axar got him with the ball. Green’s dismissal triggered a wobble as Australia lost three wickets for 14 runs in 12 balls.
When Josh Inglis was bowled by Axar, Australia still needed 64 off 35 balls. Wade alone hit 45 off 29 balls, to expose India’s death bowling, providing a throwback to his heroics against Pakistan in the T20 World Cup semi-finals last year in the UAE.
At one stage, it looked like Wade would finish the game off with Tim David after having handed David his first Australia cap. However, David fell trying to clear the boundary. Pat Cummins, though, got the job done with a four off the next ball.
INDIA 208-6 (20 overs) (Hardik Pandya 71 no, KL Rahul 55, Suryakumar Yadav 46; Nathan Ellis 3/30, Josh Hazlewood 2/39) vs AUSTRALIA 211-6 (19.2 overs) (Cameron Green 61, Matthew Wade 45 no, Steven Smith 35; Axar Patel 3/17, Umesh Yadav 2/27)
—Australia won by 4 wickets