Bengaluru | Skipper Virat Kohli and veteran Mahendra Singh Dhoni delighted the Chinnaswamy crowd with a 100-run stand off 50 balls, propelling India to 190 for four in the second and final T20 against Australia here on Wednesday.
Kohli led from the front in the must-win tie, hammering an unbeaten 72 off 38 balls in a knock that included half a dozen sixes, while Dhoni played the supporting role well with 40 off 23 balls.
It was a typical Dhoni innings that comprised three fours and as many sixes and came after a rather slow 29 off 37 balls in Vizag on Sunday night.
Opener K L Rahul was amongst runs again, scoring 47 off 26 in front of his home crowd.
Considering the pitch wore a greenish look, India brought in pace all-rounder Vijay Shankar in place of spinner Mayank Markande while fast bowler Umesh Yadav made way for Siddharth Kaul.
India made a third change by resting Rohit Sharma for Shikhar Dhawan to open the innings alongside Rahul. The southpaw was rested from the series opener.
With a series win at stake, Australia opted to field for the second game in row.
The home team got a move on in the third over of the innings bowled by left-arm pacer Jason Behrendorff.
Local hero Rahul slashed a short and wide ball between cover and point before Dhawan flicked one off pads for another four with the over going for 12 runs.
The fifth over was even more productive for India as pacer Jhye Richardson conceded 15 runs after Rahul dispatched him for consecutive sixes, a top edge that flew over over deep fine leg and a crisp drive that went all the way over cover.
The stylish Karnataka batsman, who recently went through a rough patch both on and off the field, was back in his elements.
Rahul meted out similar punishment to Pat Cummins in the following over, hitting him for back-to-back sixes.
His sublime strokeplay seemed effortless but it was no mean feat to pull a bowler of Cummins’ pace over backward square leg a ball after he whipped the Australian for a six over deep midwicket. India reached 53 for no loss in six overs.
With Dhawan a mere spectator at the other end, a third hundred in T20 Internationals for Rahul was very much on the cards before he fell to a soft dismissal, trying to guide a slower one off Nathan Coulter-Nile over third man only to be caught by Richardson.
A struggling Dhawan too departed soon after, albeit to a questionable running catch in the deep from Marcus Stoinis after the on-field umpire referred the decision to the third umpire following his soft signal.
Rishabh Pant’s early dismissal made it 74 for three in the 11th over as he mistimed one off chinaman D’Arcy Short and Richardson pulled off a sensational diving catch at long off.
Two quick dismissals brought two heavyweights — Kohli and Dhoni — in the middle. They enjoy batting together and that came to the fore as they completed a 50-run partnership off 29 balls.
Dhoni, who was criticised for his knock on Sunday, showed more intent from the word go as he began with a six over midwicket off Short.
Kohli kept himself busy by rotating the strike early in his innings. He went ballistic in the 16th over that leaked 22 runs as he smashed Coulter-Nile for three sixes in a row before completing his 20th fifty in the shortest format.
Dhoni made big gains in Short’s third over that went for 19 runs, including two sixes and a four. It was not the best of decisions from captain Aaron Finch to go with spin in the 18th over, especially with the destructive Dhoni at the crease.
Kohli finished the innings in style with a straight six over long-off.