Chase master Kohli to the fore and other takeaways as India level T20 series

Ashish Peter 25/11/2018
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Kohli leads India to victory in another chase.

India stormed to a six-wicket win over Australia in the deciding clash at Sydney on Sunday to level the T20 series 1-1.

Trailing 0-1 in the series, Virat Kohli and his men chased down the Aussie total of 164-6 with two balls to spare in the decider at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

After what was an engrossing T20 clash, we look at the key talking points.

KRUNAL PANDYA RISES TO THE OCCASION

India’s pace trio of Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Khaleel Ahmed were excellent in the abandoned second T20 but they were unable to repeat that showing on Sunday with Australia getting off to a great start with the bat.

Openers Aaron Finch and D’Arcy Short added 68 runs in just over eight overs as India’s fast-bowlers leaked runs aplenty in the powerplay. It was left to the India’s spin duo of Kuldeep Yadav and Krunal Pandya to pull things back. While the former provided the initial breakthrough by sending back Finch, it was the latter who turned the tide with four scalps.

Pandya dismissed Glenn Maxwell once again while also accounting for Short, Chris Lynn and Alex Carey who all fell while trying to sweep the left-arm spinner. While Pandya was slightly expensive, his wickets halted the Aussie momentum before a strong finish by the hosts.

A man-of-the-match display from Krunal Pandya.

A man-of-the-match display from Krunal Pandya.

AUSTRALIA SPINNERS TIE DOWN INDIA

In chase of 165, India’s openers Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma got off to an electric start with 62 runs coming in the first five overs. Twenty runs came off the fourth over of the innings while 22 came in the next bowled by Marcus Stoinis as Dhawan and Sharma made the boundary ropes at the SCG irrelevant.

Their stand was brought to an end by Mitchell Starc who outdid Dhawan with his blistering pace before Australia spinners Adam Zampa and Maxwell put a brake on India’s scoring rate.

Zampa was excellent, starting off his spell with a maiden over which included the big wicket of Sharma. He was on the mark throughout his four-over spell, conceding only 22 runs. He got excellent support from Maxwell whose part-time off-spin accounted for KL Rahul.

The pair conceded only 47 runs from their eight overs and helped the hosts claw back into the game after a rocking start by India’s openers.

Adam Zampa brought Australia back into the game.

Adam Zampa brought Australia back into the game.

KOHLI STEERS ANOTHER CHASE

It seemed inevitable. Despite all the good work by Australia’s spinners and Andrew Tye in the middle overs, the hosts were unable to claim the wicket of Kohli. If the visiting skipper stays unbeaten during a chase in a limited-overs chase, there can be only one result – an India win.

The 29-year-old looked determined to finish the chase the moment he walked out to the crease and he anchored the innings to perfection before stepping up a gear in the final overs.

He kept his cool as Zampa and Maxwell dried up the runs and chose his moments to attack in another well-crafted chase. Kohli found a trusted partner in Dinesh Karthik as he brought up his 19th T20I fifty and finished off the chase in style in the final over bowled by Tye.

It was the 14th instance of the right-hander remaining unbeaten in a T20I chase and he has now led India to victory in all 14 of them. It was also back-to-back T20I fifties at the SCG for Kohli who had led India to a last-ball victory in a chase of 198 at the venue two years ago.

Another perfect finishing job from the chase master.

Another perfect finishing job from the chase master.

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Mohammad Shahzad's 50 and Aamer Yamin's double hat-trick light up T10 League

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Mohammad Shahzad (r) started the T10 League with a bang.

The second edition of the T10 League has been remarkable to say the least. Ten overs don’t seem like a lot but in the ongoing tournament in Sharjah, a lot has happened over the course of 60 balls to leave fans thrilled and traditionalists scratching their heads.

We have witnessed some unbelievable efforts with both bat and ball in the tournament. Here we take a look at four such performances in second edition of the T10 League.

SHAHZAD TEES OFF

The very first match of the T10 League left fans stunned. The Sindhis had posted a decent total of 94-6, which was expected to pose the Rajputs some challenge. But Afghanistan wicketkeeper and Rajputs opener Mohammad Shahzad made a mockery of the target.

He blasted the bowling attack – which included proven names like Mohammad Nawaz, Jofra Archer, Thisara Perera and Fawad Ahmed – to all parts of the ground during a merciless knock of 74 from just 16 balls, including six fours and eight sixes. Rajputs chased down the target with six overs to spare.

YAMIN TO THE FOUR

Pakistan all-rounder Aamer Yamin came up with a superb bowling performance for Bengal Tigers against Northern Warriors. Defending a total of 130-1, Yamin picked up four wickets in four balls in the penultimate over the match, taking the scalps of Lendl Simmons, Rovman Powell, Ravi Bopara and Hardus Viljoen. It was a rare double hat-trick for the Pakistan quick.

TAMBE ROCKS AT 47

Indian leg-spinner Pravin Tambe is 47 but remains as effective in short formats. Playing for the Sindhis against Kerala Knights, Tambe picked up five wickets – including three in his first over.

The leg-spinner was playing his first competitive fixture in a year but showed that he still has it in him to make an impact against the best in the business; his wickets includes Chris Gayle, Eoin Morgan, Kieron Pollard and Upul Tharanga.

WARRIORS LET LOOSE

How long can a team score for nearly 20 runs an over? Northern Warriors showed that it can be done for 10 overs. Batting against Punjabi Legends, the Warriors amassed an astounding 183-2 in their 10 overs with Nicholas Pooran leading the way with 77 from 25 balls. The Warriors won the match by 99 runs.

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Pakistan's Imam-ul-Haq admits he is hurt by nepotism accusations

Waseem Ahmed 24/11/2018
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Imam-ul-Haq has spoken up on the accusations of nepotism.

Pakistan opening batsman Imam-ul-Haq has admitted that accusations of nepotism directed towards him ever since he made his international debut have hurt him.

The 22-year-old is the nephew of former Pakistan skipper and now head of the selection committee Inzamam-ul-Haq and has made a fast start to life in international cricket since his debut in an ODI against Sri Lanka last year.

The southpaw registered a fine century on debut and has since gone on to notch up three more in 15 matches. From 16 ODIs, Imam has managed to score 819 runs at an average of 63 with three half-centuries to go with his four tons.

“To be honest, it is very hurtful. As a youngster you come into international cricket with a lot of expectations from your family, and I had a great first-class season but this kind of criticism is very hurtful,” Imam told ESPNcricinfo.

“I won’t lie but this kind of criticism really pissed me off,” he added.

While he has formed an excellent opening combination with Fakhar Zaman in ODIs, the youngster is yet to stamp his authority at the Test level.

Imam has been excellent for Pakistan in the ODI format.

Imam has been excellent for Pakistan in the ODI format.

In 11 Test innings for Pakistan so far, Imam has managed to score only 303 runs at an average of just under 34. The opener was dismissed for nine runs in the first innings of Pakistan’s ongoing second Test against New Zealand on Saturday.

Despite the hiccups, the youngster is confident of silencing his critics.

“I am very mentally strong, and that helped me a lot but after that hundred (on debut), I made up my mind that I will fight for it. So it’s okay if they criticise me I will criticise them back with my performances, and so far it’s going good,” said Imam.

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