Australia secure last-ball T20 victory as India fail to defend 126

By Sports Desk February 24, 2019

Pat Cummins and Jhye Richardson were Australia's unlikely batting heroes, the duo reaching a victory target of 127 off the final ball to claim a thrilling three-wicket win over India in the first Twenty20. 

Australia had inserted India after winning the toss and had restricted their hosts to 126-7, with KL Rahul's 50 and MS Dhoni's unbeaten 29 the most significant knocks in a total that always looked below par. 

Glenn Maxwell's 56 off 43 balls and D'Arcy Short's 37 had ensured the visiting side looked to be coasting towards their victory target when 101-3 in the 16th over, yet Jasprit Bumrah (3-16) inspired an Indian fightback. 

Richardson and Cummins came together at the start of the final over, when Australia still needed 14, and both men struck boundaries off Umesh Yadav before Cummins' shot down the ground yielded two off the last ball, seeing the tourists to victory.

India had only managed to score at 6.3 per over but they made early inroads in Australia's batting line-up when Marcus Stoinis was run out from the final ball of the second over and Bumrah struck Aaron Finch on the pads from the next delivery, leaving Australia 5-2. 

Maxwell and Short then produced a vital partnership, though the former survived a direct hit for a run out when on 35 before reaching his half-century. 

Yuzvendra Chahal eventually accounted for Maxwell when he sliced to long off in the 14th over, and India had their fourth wicket when Peter Handscomb's hesitation after calling Short through for a second resulted in the latter being run out. 

India's hopes of defending their score grew when Ashton Turner was bowled for a five-ball duck, and Bumrah dismissed Handscomb and then Nathan Coulter-Nile with the final two balls in an over that cost just two runs. 

Umesh delivered the last over and was unable to see India home, Cummins dispatching a full toss to the ropes before poking a shot back past the bowler's dive and running through for two. 

It meant India's effort was not enough, despite their innings having shown promise when Rahul and Virat Kohli (24) produced a 55-run stand after opener Rohit Sharma had departed in the third over.

However, India's progress was punctuated by losing regular wickets. Rishabh Pant was run out - Jason Behrendorff making a brilliant one-handed stop and quickly firing a throw in to wicketkeeper Handscomb - before Rahul's fine knock was ended when he lifted a straight shot to Finch at mid off.

Dinesh Karthik was bowled by Coulter-Nile (3-26) before there were three figures on the board and India were 100-6 after 15 overs when a swipe from Hardik Pandya off the same bowler found Maxwell at backward point.

That left Dhoni to try and hog the strike and shield the tail but Umesh was trapped lbw by Cummins, who went on to have a crucial say with the bat in Australia's successful chase.

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    The in-form Smith was booed when he walked to the crease, then when he reached his half-century and brought up a brilliant hundred on Saturday.

    David Warner was also heckled by fans in their first match against England since returning from a one-year suspension for their part in the Newlands ball-tampering scandal.

    Smith, who made 116 from 102 balls a week before Australia start their World Cup defence against Afghanistan, was unfazed by the abuse he received.

    "I heard a few things as I went out to bat, but it didn't really get to me. I'm kind of just trying to keep my head down and move straight ahead and just do my job," Smith said.

    "Fortunately, I was able to score a few runs for the team and, more importantly, spend some time in the middle before our first game of the World Cup."

    Smith added: "It doesn't bother me, it's just doing my job and I know that I've got the support of my team-mates up on the balcony and that's the most important thing. If I can make them proud out in the middle and make Australians proud as much as I can, well, that's my job.

    "I just blank it out. They call it white noise. When I am out there I pay no attention to the crowd and just move on with playing the game."

    Smith said he had not been on the receiving end of hostility from the public in England prior to the match at the home of Hampshire.

    "No, it's been really good I haven't copped any which is really nice. I guess everyone is entitled to their opinion and how they want to treat people, but it is water off a duck's back," he said. 

    "I'll just do my own thing and just keep working hard to play hard."

    England were all out for 285 in the final over in reply to 297-9, with concerns over a foot injury suffered by Mark Wood. Jofra Archer also suffered an injury scare but was able to bat.

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