India completed a historic whitewash over Australia in their own backyard in what turned out to be a thriller of a match at the SCG. It was an inconsequential match, but no one was going to take it like that. India, chasing a herculean total of 198, won in the last ball of the match when Suresh Raina hit a boundary to seal the result.
Australia had won the toss earlier and Shane Watson, captain in absence of injured Aaron Finch, chose to bat first, hoping for a different result than what the hosts had got chasing in the first two T20Is. The captain and comeback man Watson lead from the front spectacularly, scoring a brilliant century to power Australia to 197. His 124 not out off 71 balls was a statement: he's not yet done.
But India got off to a flyer, Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan started the onslaught, which Virat Kohli, the man with the golden bat, soon joined. But it was Suresh Raina's 49 not out and Yuvraj Singh's late cameo that nudged India over the finish-line. Two familiar faces, doing familiar things — finishing up.
Shane Watson was adjudged Man of the Match for his ton in vain, and Kohli the the Man of the Series.
Cricket expert Ayaz Memon, in conversation with Firstpost's Manas Mitul, analysed India's performance in the third T20I and gave his words on the series whitewash.
"It's been great series for India because it was a clean sweep. India are now the top-ranked team in T20Is!," Ayaz said after the end of the match. "In every match India has been a cut above Australia. It's not often that you see Australia being upstaged in their home conditions."
Ayaz expressed his pleasure over Raina and Yuvraj's comeback, and was impressed with how the duo finished the game. "It was an brilliant comeback by Raina. It was a trial by fire fro Yuvraj and it worked. That was vintage Yuvraj. If nothing else, I think he's going to keep his place in the team for the World T20," he said.
Ayaz also lauded the India top-order batting, singling out Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma for praise. "It's been a great series for the top order. Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, you can call them 'super' and 'duper' of the this batting line-up. Virat's potential is known because he has actualised it in all three formats. With Rohit, everyone asked whether he was as good a player as people thought him to be. At least, in limited overs cricket he has left no doubt that he is among the top 5 batsmen in the world," Ayaz said.
The cricket expert said it was the right decision to stick with the same team that won the first two T20Is. "They wanted to do the clean-sweep. Having one 2-0 why not win 3-0, and leave Australia feeling on top of the world" he said.
However, he did say that the Australian side had underwent chopping and changing and were experimenting ahead of the World T20 in March.
Ayaz called the pitch culprit for the the bowlers' misery throughout the series. "It's been a very uneven contest throughout. The drop inpitches are also responsible for it. And that's what people want to see today for entertainment," he said.
But Ayaz praise Cameron Boyce and Shane Watson's bowling efforts. Boyce picked up the wickets of Kohli and Rohit Sharma, tilting the match in Australia's favour before Raina eased India's nerves. Watson was also very tight and gave away 30 runs in four overs and sent Dhawan packing.
Stay with Firstpost Sports to more coverage and analysis on cricket and other sports. India will next face Sri Lanka at home in a three-match T20 series, starting 9 February. Follow @FirstpostSports on Twitter for more details.
Match Report: India win third T20I by 7 wickets, whitewash Australia 3-0
Sydney: India's top batting order put Shane Watson's unbeaten 86-ball 124 in the shade as they clinched the third and final match of their Twenty20 International (T20I) series by seven wickets to blank Australia 3-0 at the Sydney Cricket Ground here on Sunday.
Watson's superb maiden century powered Australia, batting first, to a handsome 197 for five. In reply, India rode on blistering batting from their top four batsmen -- Shikhar Dhawan (26 in nine deliveries), Rohit Sharma (52 in 38), Virat Kohli (50 in 36) and Suresh Raina (49 not out in 38) -- to overtake the target in the final over.
With India needing 17 in the final over, Yuvraj Singh hit pacer Andrew Tye for a six and then a four off the first two deliveries to pave the way for the last-ball heroics by Raina.
Chasing the 198-run target, India got off to a flying start. They raced to 62 in the first five overs, thanks to a quickfire 26 off nine deliveries by Shikhar Dhawan -- who, after a dismal ODI outing, was getting into the groove in T20I. The left-handed opener plundered four fours and a six.
Watson got rid of Dhawan who edged to debuting wicket-keeper Cameron Bancroft.
However, the wicket didn't bring relief for the hosts as the in-form Virat Kohli joined Rohit Sharma in the middle and the duo scored at will.
They forged a 78-run stand for the second wicket when Rohit got out after scoring 52 off 38. The Mumbai right-hander was caught by Watson at midwicket off Cameron Boyce -- but not before putting India strongly on track -- at 124/2 in 12.3 overs.
Later, Kohli completed his 12th T20I fifty -- third in the series -- but soon lost his wicket being bowled by Boyce with India needing 51 runs in 5.1 overs.
Thereafter, Raina kept India going with two back-to-back crucial fours in the 18th over, after which India were short of 22 runs in two overs.
In the penultimate over, Watson bowled brilliantly and gave away only five runs with Yuvraj struggling to hit big.
The veteran southpaw, however, made amends in the final over collecting 10 runs off the first two deliveries bowled by Tye. A bye off the third ball was followed by two consecutive doubles from Raina, who then hit a boundary as against the required two runs for the win.
For Australia, leg-spinner Boyce impressed with figures of 28-2 in four overs, while Man-of-the-Match Watson gave away 30 runs for a single wicket.
Earlier, Watson, making his debut as captain in T20I, milked six sixes -- three off Ravindra Jadeja and two off Ashish Nehra -- and 10 fours during his maiden ton as the Indian bowlers conceded 117 runs in the final 10 overs.
It was also the first time that India gave away a hundred to an opposition batsman in the shortest format.
Trailing 0-2 in the series, Australia came up with the scratch opening pair of Watson and Usman Khawaja as regular batsmen David Warner, Aaron Finch and Steve Smith did not play either due to injury or because they were being rested for the forthcoming series against New Zealand.
The hosts didn't get a good start as in-form Khawaja was dismissed for 14 with the right-hander edging a Nehra delivery to wicket-keeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni in the third over.
However, experienced Watson, dropped from the One-Day International (ODI) series, showed why he is still a force to reckon with as he kept punishing the Indian bowlers.
He played a crucial role in a 50-run partnership with Shaun Marsh, who took his time.
Left-hander Marsh (9) had his stumps shattered when he went for a mistimed slog sweep off off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin.
Marsh's wicket, with Australia at 69 for two in 7.4 overs, brought 'Big Show' Glenn Maxwell (6) but he was soon holed out at short cover to Suresh Raina off Yuvraj Singh's bowling.
Travis Head then joined Watson in the middle and provided the muscle. He despatched Yuvraj for a six and a four to boost his captain's faith as the partnership flourished, with Watson on a song.
Watson also benefitted from India's generosity. He was batting on 56 and on the second ball of the 12th over, he mishit a wide ball from Hardik Pandya towards Virat Kohli, who spilled the catch at deep cover. In the 14th over, skipper Dhoni failed to collect a throw from Pandya, failing to run Watson out as the batsman tried to complete his second run.
Watson made India pay as he hit two sixes off left-arm spinner Jadeja and one off Ashwin before completing his maiden hundred in 58 balls.
After the hundred, he again hit Jadeja for a six and one off Nehra as his team mustered a total of 197 for five.
Kohli got the Man-of-the-Series award for scoring 199 runs in three matches.