Rinku Singh’s last-ball, fence-clearing blow has launched India to a nail-biting two-wicket win over Australia in the first Twenty20 international at Visakhapatnam.
Nothing will ever bring back the World Cup but India were able to exact some retribution for that heartbreak four days earlier, with RInku their last-gasp hero in Thursday’s (Friday AEDST) thriller.
After Josh Inglis’s spectacular 110 off 50 deliveries lifted Australia to 3-208, Suriyakumar Yadav bludgeoned 80 to have India comfortably placed before Nathan Ellis’s tight 19th over and three wickets in as many balls – including two run outs – in Sean Abbott’s 20th created a murmur.
In the space of three deliveries, with two runs required, Abbott caught-and-bowled Axar Patel (2) before Ravi Bishnoi and Hardeep Singh were both run out for ducks, sacrificed to get Rinku on strike.
WIth one run needed, Rinku deposited the sixth delivery over the long-on fence, although his spectacular finish wasn’t rewarded on the scoreboard with Abbott getting called for a match-losing no-ball.
India’s chase had started poorly, with Ruturaj Gaikwad run out without facing a ball after a horrible mix-up and opening partner Yashasvi Jaiswal (21) bunting Matt Short tamely to Steve Smith at mid-off.
Suryakumar, who had a ragged World Cup campaign with 106 runs at 17.66, was back in his preferred format and, on his international captaincy debut, showed why he is the No.1 ranked T20 batter in the world.
Together with Ishan Kishan (58), who spent most of the World Cup on the bench, he added 112 for the third wicket to put India in control.
“I left the (captaincy) luggage in the dressing room,” said Suryakumar. “I just tried to enjoy my batting, whether I am batting 10 or 40 balls.”
Earlier, Inglis crunched 11 fours and eight sixes, raising his maiden ton off 47 balls to equal the record held by Aaron Finch – set against England at Southampton in 2013 – for the quickest T20 hundred by an Australian.
“Josh Inglis played a terrific knock for us and got us to a score we thought we could defend,” Australia captain Matthew Wade said.
“To see him come in at No.3 and play shots from ball one, he was the class batter on the night. But India came out hard and showed their class.”
Inglis became just the fifth Australian – after Finch, Glenn Maxwell, Shane Watson and David Warner – to score a T20 international hundred.
Inglis wasn’t required to bat in Sunday’s upset World Cup final triumph and scored only 159 runs at 19.87 for the tournament, but he showcased his talents – and Australia’s depth – when given a chance at No.3.
Inglis and Smith (52) combined for a 130-run liaison – the highest second-wicket partnership by any Australian pair in T20Is – to put India’s unrecognisable, second-string attack under the pump.
Smith, looking to re-establish his white-ball credentials after a lean World Cup camptain, found the boundary eight times in his 41-ball knock before he was run out.