Rajkot: Riding on a blazing fifty from comeback man Yuvraj Singh, India chased down a massive Australian target of 202 to win the one-off Twenty20 contest by six wickets on Thursday.
Yuvraj struck 77 off 35 balls, his highest score in international Twenty20, as India chased down the target with two balls to spare. MS Dhoni remained unbeaten on 24 off 21 balls. Clint Mckay although took two wickets but went for 50 runs in his four overs.
Yuvraj forged an unbeaten 102-run stand with Dhoni, who played a second-fiddle.
Yuvraj, playing for India in over eight months, scored an unbeaten 77 off 35 balls as the hosts beat Australia by six wickets at Rajkot.
For Australia, Aaron Finch smashed 89 off 52 balls to drive the visitors to a big total. Finch plundered 15 boundaries, including a six, as he anchored the Australian innings while debutant Nic Maddinson (34) and Glenn Maxwell (27) also played more than handful knocks for their side.
Vinay Kumar was exceptional on a wicket which had very little for the bowlers. The medium pacer took 3 for 26 in his four overs. Bhuvneshwar Kumar also picked up 3 for 35 in his four overs. An off-colour Ravichandran Ashwin and Ishant Sharma bled 93 runs in six wicket-less overs between them and that cost India dearly.
Yuvraj carried his sublime form, with which he forced his way into the team, into the game as he plundered eight fours and five sixes.
The left-hander whacked the bowlers all around the park as his trademark powerful flicks, ferocious cuts and elegantly lofted drives enthralled the packed house even as the Australians watched helplessly.
Batting like a man-possessed, Yuvraj reached his 50 with a straight six off paceman James Faulkner while Dhoni finished the match with a four and couple of runs off Shane Watson.
Indian batsmen made up for the poor first half with some excellent batting even though the start was not that good as Rohit Sharma (8) exited early and Suresh Raina (19) could not build on to a good start.
Since Shikhar Dhawan (32) and Virat Kohli (29) were striking the ball cleanly, India maintained a healthy run-rate but not keeping wickets did cause some anxiety.
Dhawan was stumped off Xavier Doherty while Kohli was caught off Clint McKay even as India reached 100 in 11 overs.
Dhoni and Yuvraj then turned it on with their scintillating batting. Yuvraj hit two sixes and a four in three balls off McKay to plunder 18 runs in the 14th over. India needed 69 runs from the last six overs but with Yuvraj in scintillating form, the hosts recorded a comfortable win.
Earlier, Finch provided a blazing start to his side with debutant Nic Maddinson as Australia raced to 50 in just 4.1 overs. Maddinson showed no signs of nerves as he punished the bowlers to make a 16-ball 34.
The 21-year old left-hander forged a 56-run opening stand with Finch before being castled by seamer Bhuvneshwar.
Vinay Kumar picked up two crucial wickets of allrounder Shane Watson (6) and Aussie skipper George Bailey (0) to bring some relief for the hosts.
The visitors came back strongly as Glenn Maxwell blazed through the opposition attack and made 27 off just 13 balls.
The 24-year old played a blinder as he struck four sixes in his fluent knock, including three in the same over against Ashwin.
Finch was dismissed in the 17th over when Vinay held on to a powerful strike in his follow through. James Faulkner struck a last-ball six to guide his team to a go past the 200-run mark figure.
Left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja, playing his first T20 at home, played a crucial part in the hosts' recovery as he gave away just 23 runs in his four overs and also got a wicket.
(With inputs from PTI)
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