India completed a clean sweep after chasing down a mammoth target to take out a last-ball seven-wicket win at the SCG last night.
Australia looked to be heading for victory after posting 5-197 thanks to a record-breaking unbeaten 124 from rejuvenated stand-in skipper Shane Watson.
Half centuries to Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli laid a solid foundation before Suresh Raina and Yuvraj Singh displayed nerves of steel to finish the job and smash 17 off Andrew Tye’s final over to reach 3-200 for victory.
After Singh hit Tye to the fence with back-to-back boundaries to reduce their deficit to seven, Raina iced the win when he drove Tye to backward point fence with the final delivery of the game.
To rub salt into Australia’s wounds, Raina (49 off 25) was given a chance on zero by wicketkeeper Cameron Bancroft who missed a stumping off Cameron Boyce’s bowling.
Just over a month out from the World Cup in India, Australia’s squad and best 11 are still largely unknown.
Right-arm legspinner Boyce, who finished with figures of 2-28, was superb at the SCG but Nathan Lyon, Ashton Agar and Adam Zampa remain in the mix.
Watson, despite smashing the second highest T20 score of all time, still isn’t assured of a spot on the plane with Australia boasting a number of options at the top of the order.
Australia experimented with a number of fast-bowling options over the summer – and will use their limited-overs series against New Zealand starting this week to look at Scott Boland, John Hastings and Kane Richardson.
Skipper Aaron Finch is also racing the clock after suffering a hamstring injury in the second T20 loss to India, but declared on Twitter he was confident of being fit for selection.
I'll be in Tubby!! @WWOS9
— Aaron Finch (@AaronFinch5) January 31, 2016
With a T20 series in South Africa to follow their tour of New Zealand, Watson said there was plenty of time to fine-tune and settle on their best team.
“There’s not a hell of a lot to worry about, it’s more about solidifying our roles,” Watson said.
“Where guys are going to bat, who’s going to play and bowling-wise who’s going to play, (and) where you’re going to bowl power plays.
“I think once they get that right – and I’m sure they’re very confident they’ll have that for the South African tour in the lead up to the T20 World Cup – then that will go a long way to us knowing how to execute our roles.”
With the series win, Indian moved to top spot on the ICC T20 rankings to cement their favouritism for the World Cup.
Australia are desperate to win the tournament and snare the only major piece of silverware to elude them – but Watson conceded the Indians, with their top order firing, would be the team to beat on home soil.
“I think no matter what they would have almost always been a favourite, no matter how well they went here,” Watson said.
“Obviously conditions are very different in India, they’ve got so many world-class players, especially from a batting and spin-bowling point of view, which is very important over in India.
“The way they handled the pressure of their own [one-day] World Cup in 2011 was incredible as well. They know how to win well in big tournaments.”
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