Suryakumar Yadav scored 80 off 42 while Rinku Singh hit the winning six in the first T20I against Australia.
More than half of the country is yet to get over the heartbreak of losing the ICC Cricket World Cup final against Australia, and yet on Thursday, the two countries were at it once again, this time playing the first of a five-match T20I bilateral series in Visakhapatnam.
There was some solace this time though as a relatively inexperienced Indian side, led by Suryakumar Yadav, managed to secure a nail-biting two-wicket win over Australia. The game didn’t lack any drama, though, as India were seemingly on their way home with just seven runs needed off the last over and with five wickets in hand. Pacer Sean Abbott had other ideas as India lost three wickets off three balls to be put in a crunch situation. Rinku Singh kept his nerves and slammed a six off the next ball which was coincidentally also a no-ball to settle the issue.
Both India and Australia went with fresh faces for the series as the seniors had earned a well-deserved rest following their exploits at the recent World Cup. With the young guns finding a great opportunity to showcase their potential at such a grand stage, the match went right down to the wire. The cricket proved to be bold and fearless and wicket-keeper Josh Inglis stole the show for Australia in the first innings with a fantastic knock of 110 off 50. Despite going for plenty of runs, the final over bowled by Mukesh Kumar, where he conceded just five runs, earned a lot of plaudits and adulation.
With the bat, India were heavily dependent upon Suryakumar Yadav and Ishan Kishan, and both of them had featured in the World Cup as well. Leading the team for the first time, Surya took charge of the run-chase and slammed 80 runs off just 42 balls while Ishan Kishan also scored a well-timed half-century before Rinku Singh ensured a grand-stand finish for the hosts.
Australia were put to bat first and despite resting World Cup heroes Travis Head, Adam Zampa, and Glenn Maxwell, they still had plenty of fireworks in the arsenal. Indian bowlers, especially Prasidh Krishna and Ravi Bishnoi, were guilty of shoddy bowling efforts and led by Inglis’ century, the visitors cruised to a dazzling total of 208/3.
Despite the challenging total in front of them, Indian batters began with a flourish as Yashasvi Jaiswal two boundaries and two sixes before getting out for a well-made 21(8). Ruturaj Gaikwad was unfortunate to be dismissed on a diamond duck after getting caught in a run-out situation but from that point on, Ishan Kishan and Suryakumar Yadav took over. They stitched a 112-run partnership for the third wicket and Surya’s innings got India back on track.
Rinku Singh, who has been going through a particularly sweet purple patch in his career following his heroics in IPL 2023, answered the call at the death for India. His finishing nous ensured that the Vizag crowd wouldn’t go home empty-handed and despite the pain of losing the final, there was something to smile about for a brief moment in Indian cricket.