MELBOURNE: The second T20 International between India and Australia was called off due to intermittent rain on Friday, undoing the visitors’ good work with the ball and denying them an opportunity to level the three-match series.
India were naturally disappointed at not getting a go at the target which was revised thrice due to rain. Australia had scored 137 for seven in 19 overs when the first spell of rain arrived at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
India’s target was initially revised to 137 runs in 19 overs before more rain made it 90 runs from 11 overs and then 46 from five overs. Nearly 90 minutes were lost due to the fickle weather before the game was eventually called off at 10.02 pm local time.
Rain playing hide and seek was not just frustrating for the players but also for the 60,000 plus crowd gathered at the iconic venue.
With the match not producing a result, India now can only level the series in the final game in Sydney on Friday. Virat Kohli and his team had come into the T20 series after winning six bilateral contests in a row.
India put up a much improved with the ball on Friday, following the disappointment of the series opener at the Gabba on Wednesday.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar (2-20) and Khaleel Ahmed (2-39) shared four wickets to rock the Australian top-order and reduce them to 41-4 at one stage.
This was after India won the toss and opted to bowl. The visitors went in with an unchanged side while Australia made one change, bringing in Nathan Coulter-Nile for Billy Stanlake who picked up an ankle niggle during warm-up.
Kumar then struck with his second delivery, dismissing Aaron Finch (0) caught behind. From there onwards, India exerted themselves on the field and there was never any let up.
But there were hiccups. The swing bowler should have had at least a couple more wickets, but was twice unlucky in the third over.
First, Rishabh Pant spilled a difficult diving catch behind the wickets with D’Arcy Short (14) getting a life on 7. Two balls later, Chris Lynn (13), on nought, should have been caught at fine leg, only for Jasprit Bumrah (1-20) to spill it over the rope and for a six.
Ahmed did strike in the fourth over and pegged Australia back as Lynn was caught in the deep going for another big one. Two overs later, he bowled Short and India’s missed chances didn’t cost them too much.
The longer boundaries further aided India as Bumrah had Marcus Stoinis (4) caught in the deep in the seventh over to put the hosts under more pressure.
Glenn Maxwell (19) and Ben McDermott (32 not out) added 21 runs for the fifth wicket to stem the rot, but Krunal Pandya (1-26) struck to remove danger-man Maxwell. The spinner found some grip and a hint of turn as Maxwell was bowled in the 11th over.
Kuldeep Yadav (1-23) too made his presence felt, chipping in with Alex Carey’s (4) dismissal, sending the prominently Indian crowd into raptures.
Australia somehow managed to cross the 100-mark in the 16th over, thanks to a 27-run partnership between Nathan Coulter-Nile (18) and McDermott.
Coulter-Nile hit two sixes and a four during his nine-ball stay. McDermott held one end together and put on 31 runs off 20 balls with Andrew Tye (12 not out), providing a little impetus to the innings before rain halted proceedings.—PTI