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Rohit and Axar help India level the series in eight-over shootout

India 92 for 4 (Rohit 46*, Zampa 3-16) batted Australia 90 for 5 (Wade 43*, Finch 31, Axar 2-13) with six wickets

Rohit Sharma smashed four fours and as many sixes in his unbeaten 20-ball 46 to help India overtake Australia’s 90 for 5 in an eight-over contest in Nagpur. The win meant the series is now level 1-1 with the final T20I to be played in Hyderabad on Sunday.

A wet spot in the outfield, thanks to Thursday’s rain, delayed the start by two and a half hours. Even when the umpires decided to go ahead, they did so by saying “although the conditions are not perfect, they are safe to play”.

India, boosted by the return of Jasprit Bumrah, put Australia in after winning the toss. With each bowler allowed up to two overs, they did not need a sixth bowling option. So they decided to strengthen their batting and brought in Rishabh Pant for Bhuvneshwar Kumar.

Aaron Finch’s 15-ball 31 and Matthew Wade’s unbeaten 20-ball 43 took the visitors to a competitive total despite Axar Patel conceding just 13 from his two overs. However, India had the advantage of knowing the target. While Adam Zampa threatened to derail their chase with three quick wickets, Rohit remained calm to see his side through.

Finch blazes away, Wade secures a strong finish
Hardik Pandya, bowling the first over of the innings, found some movement in the air. But as you would expect in a shortened game, Finch was keenly aware of the conditions and scooped the second ball over the keeper’s head for four.

In the second over, Cameron Green was run out for a quick single before Axar pinged Glenn Maxwell’s middle stump with an arm ball. The left-arm spinner would do the same against Tim David in his next over to keep Australia at bay.

Finch managed to hit Yuzvendra Chahal for a straight six between Axar’s two overs, but he had no answer to a searing yorker from Bumrah that flattened his leg stump. In fact, Finch ended up applauding the bowler after the dismissal.

Wade took some time – he was 7 from 7 – before hitting Harshal Patel for two fours in the sixth over. But it was the final over that really lifted Australia as Harshal struggled to get his length right. Wade contributed 18 of the 19 runs scored off the last six balls, pulling two short ones over the leg-side boundary and making a high throw over deep cover.

Rohit pulls it out for India
Chasing 91, Rohit and KL Rahul were quick off the blocks. Rohit clobbered Josh Hazlewood for two sixes in the opening over and Rahul closed it with a flick six of his own. In the next over, Rohit hooked Pat Cummins for another six, leaving India needing 62 from six overs.

Zampa set them back by picking up three wickets – Rahul and Virat Kohli were bowled and Suryakumar Yadav was lbw for a first-ball duck. But Rohit found back-to-back fours off Sean Abbott to keep the asking rate under control.

Hardik fell for a run-a-ball 9, but Rohit steered the last ball of the seventh over, bowled by Cummins, behind point. With India requiring nine from the last over, Karthik smashed Daniel Sam’s behind square leg for six and then pulled a slower short ball between deep midwicket and deep square leg to seal victory.

Hemant Brar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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