T20 WC warm-up: Comeback man Mohammed Shami gives India thrilling win over Australia
India pacer Mohammed Shami in action. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)
Mohammad Shami put the concerns over his fitness to rest with a sensational 20th over as India pulled off a six-run win over Australia in their first warm-up fixture of the T20 World Cup in Brisbane on Monday (17).
K L Rahul (57 off 33) and Suryakumar Yadav (50 off 33) smashed entertaining half-centuries to power India to 186 for seven after Australia opted to bowl at the Gabba.
Needing 16 runs off the last 12 balls with six wickets in hand, Australia were on course for a comfortable win before Shami, Harshal Patel and Virat Kohli the fielder scripted a turnaround for India. Shami, who last played a competitive game in July and landed here after suffering a long bout of Covid-19, turned up to bowl the last over of the game and made a decisive impact on the game.
He landed yorker after yorker and ended up with three wickets in the over besides a run out. Shami was drafted into the squad as a replacement for the injured Jasprit Bumrah. In the penultimate over, under-fire Harshal Patel delivered after being hammered early on, as he conceded only five runs in an over that also included a brilliant run out off a Kohli direct hit.
The star India batter had also plucked a stunning one-handed catch out of thin air at the boundary line to dismiss Pat Cummins. However, concerns over India’s bowling remains ahead of their tournament opener against Pakistan on October 23.
“There is room for improvement, but I want more consistency from the bowlers. You need to keep things simple and hit the deck hard. Overall a good game for us, they had a decent partnership and that put us under pressure,” said skipper Rohit Sharma.
On Shami’s match-winning effort, he said, “He is coming back after a long time, so we wanted to give him an over. Wanted to give him a challenge and let him bowl the final over, and you saw what he did.”
Earlier, the Indian batters enjoyed the pace and bounce of the wicket, especially Rahul who scored the bulk of the runs in the powerplay, taking his team to 69 for no loss. Rohit (15 off 14) was a mere spectator at the other end as Rahul came up with one classy hit after another.
During a 78-run stand between the openers, Rohit hardly got to bat and could open his account only in the fifth over. Rahul, whose strike rate has been questioned in the past, looked like he was back to his best after coming back from an injury lay off.
His innings comprised delightful cover drivers off the pacers while his standout shots were the two sixes off Cummins, one was a crisp pull while the other was a whip off a good length ball, which sailed over deep midwicket.
Barring Hardik Pandya (2), who was outdone by a slower ball from Kane Richardson, all the Indian batters got to spend some valuable time in the middle.
The bigger boundaries in Australia are already making an impact with Kohli (19 off 13), Dinesh Karthik (20 off 14), Rohit and Rahul getting caught in the deep. Karthik walked across the stumps to dispatch Kane Richardson over deep mid-wicket but was caught by Glenn Maxwell just inside the boundary ropes. It would have been a six at a ground in India. Kohli was bounced out by Mitchell Starc to be caught at fine leg while Rohit’s slog sweep landed in the safe hands of Maxwell.
After a high-quality knock, Rahul could not give a long hop from Maxwell due punishment and was caught at deep midwicket. With the start India got, they should have reached 200 but could not do so. There was also another fine knock from Suryakumar, who had also scored a fifty against Western Australia in Perth. He and Rahul also got the taste of the extra bounce as they both were hit on the helmet.