Wade-inspired Australia open India T20I series with successful chase
Australia completed a thrilling chase of 208 to take the lead in their T20I series with India, as Matthew Wade dragged the tourists over the line for a four-wicket win in Mohali.
India looked set for victory after setting a formidable target, rounded off by an unbeaten knock of 71 from Hardik Pandya.
But after Axar Patel (3-17) and Umesh Yadav (2-27) dealt with the Aussies' openers, Wade stepped up late on to earn the visitors their fourth consecutive win over India in the format.
India lost both skipper Rohit Sharma (11) and Virat Kohli (2) within the first five overs, but opener KL Rahul's half-century ensured they made decent progress thereafter.
Rahul – who received Rohit's backing as India's preferred opener ahead of the upcoming T20 World Cup last week – brought up 55 by the 12th over before being caught by Nathan Ellis from Josh Hazlewood's delivery.
Australia's hopes of limiting the hosts to a low score soon evaporated, however, as Hardik took over with a superb knock – which included 48 runs in the final four overs of the innings – to carry India to 208.
Visiting captain Aaron Finch (22) was then clean bowled by Axar in the left-hander's first over with the ball, but Cameron Green led a strong response, scoring 61 before Patel doubled up with Australia reaching 109-2.
The hosts appeared to be closing in on victory when Dinesh Karthik claimed catches to dismiss both Steve Smith (35) and Glenn Maxwell (1) off Umesh's bowling, but Wade had other ideas.
The 34-year-old scored 45 off 21 balls – recording a strike rate only bettered by Hardik on the day – to carry his side to victory, getting the T20 world champions off to a flyer in the three-match series.
Hardik hard done by
Hardik's effort looked likely to prove decisive for much of the contest, and he can certainly bear no responsibility for the hosts' defeat after his outstanding showing.
Only Yuvraj Singh (58 v England in 2007) and Kohli (54 v Afghanistan in 2022) have bettered his total of 48 runs in the final four overs of an innings for India.
World champions send home records tumbling
While Australia made it four in a row against India in the shortest format, they also dealt a rare blow to Rohit's side on home soil.
Ahead of Tuesday's defeat, India had won 13 of their last 15 home T20Is, with their only two losses coming against South Africa in June.
Meanwhile, this is the first time they have suffered a T20I defeat at the Punjab Cricket Association IS Bindra Stadium in Mohali, having won on all three of their previous outings there.