Amidst the Rohit Blitz Karthik Had His Moments as India Level T20I Series Against Australia!


Chasing a tall target of 91 runs to win in 8 overs (the second T20I between India and Australia was reduced to 8-overs a side due to rain affected pitch and outfield) captain Rohit played out of his skin remaining not out at 46 off just 20 balls to steer India to a win by 6 wickets against Australia before a packed house in Nagpur. He kept his cool and hit some terrific shots all around the park as he has been known for despite the failures of KL Rahul, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav and Hardik Pandya. For a change, we’ve used ‘India’ instead of ‘Rohit Franchise’ because the team finally looked like a national team with main strike bowler Jasprit Bumrah coming back and batsman-keeper Dinesh Karthik retained notwithstanding what happened in the first match. This is not at all due to India’s win. Of course, one of the main weapons for a national side Bhuvneshwar Kumar was dropped or rested as he’s been giving away crucial runs in his second spell in the last few matches. However, the fact that the IPL rookie fast bowlers have been consistently given the privilege of bowling the last over could’ve affected his confidence and form. Even with Bumrah around the last over in this match was also handed over to Harshal Patel and that over cost a lot of runs.

 

Earlier, during the extended pre-match panel discussion Sunil Gavaskar had welcomed the inclusion of Bumrah for the do or die match and made a far more important observation that with Bumrah or Shami bowling from the other end Bhuvneshwar just gets transformed bowling to a tight length and getting the rewards too. Gavaskar also welcomed the move to retain Dinesh Karthik saying that Karthik has always been a finisher and a team would love to have him coming in at a crucial juncture. His comment simply means that a ‘finisher’ must be utilized before the match gets actually finished.

 

In the match played last night, 23rd September 2022, we justifiably had a nightmarish thought about having to watch Axar Patel coming in when a struggling Pandya fell in the fifth ball of the penultimate over and India still needed 14 runs in 7 balls. But to our heartfelt relief we beheld Karthik coming in occupying the non-striker’s end as Rohit did cross over during the Pandya catch. As a cruel blow to the Aussies who again saw themselves back in the match the sixth ball was a wide coming from an experienced Pat Cummins and the next ball was hit for a four by Rohit; the final equation being reduced now to 9 runs in the last over. Karthik was facing the last over.

 

He hit the first ball of the last over by Daniel Sams for a huge six and then the next ball for a resounding four. And the match was over as Rohit rushed to embrace Karthik. The ‘finisher’ sent ahead of Rishabh Pant and Axar Patel at long last seized the opportunity to prove his mettle and helped his team romp home to 92/4 with 4 balls to spare. Well, giving your key players the trust and confidence almost always works. Now what happens next is eagerly awaited as both the teams clash for the decider in Hyderabad tomorrow; the ‘experiment scare’ just refuses to leave us alone.

 

Put in to bat Australia had captain Finch blasting away in a determined frame of mind to seal the Series. But Rohit just then produced a masterstroke handing over the ball to Axar Patel in the very second over with, mind you, Bumrah around. Axar first affected a Kohli-fueled brilliant runout of the first-match destroyer Cameron Green and then clean bowled the dangerous Glen Maxwell for a first-ball duck in the last ball of the same over. Probably as there were only 8 overs to be bowled in all he was not taken off and was given the fourth over too, and in that over Axar clean bowled Tim David. He effectively prevented Australia from running away with a 100+ total in spite of the late charge by Matthew Wade (43 not out in 20 balls). Adam Zampa did more than an Axar capturing the top three Indian wickets, but could not force a win thanks to Rohit and that each bowler could bowl only two overs each. Josh Hazelwood was the most expensive Aussie bowler giving away 20 runs in 2 overs.

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