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4th T20I: Axar's 3-16 after Rinku, Jitesh's knocks help India beat Australia, take unbeatable 3-1 lead

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Raipur, Dec 1 (IANS) Spinners Axar Patel (3-16) and Ravi Bishnoi (1-17) stifled Australian batters in the middle overs as India won the fourth T20I by 20 runs to claim the five-match bilateral series 3-1 and win a record-breaking 136th T20I victory, the most by any team in international cricket.

After being restricted to 174/9 in 20 overs thanks to vital contributions by Rinku Singh (46), Jitesh Sharma (35), and Yashasvi Jaiswal (37), India looked on the rope as Australia looked on course as they reached 87/3 in the 12th over.

But spinners Axar Patel, who is returning from an injury because of which he missed the ODI World Cup, and Ravi Bishnoi bowled well in tandem and claimed four wickets between them for just 33 runs in eight overs as Suryakumar Yadav's side came back strongly to restrict Australia to 154/7 in 20 overs to seal victory for India.

With this win India took an unassailable 3-1 lead in the five-match series with a match to spare, claiming their fifth successive T20I series at home. With this, India won their 136th T20I match and broke Pakistan's record for winning the most number of 20-over international matches.

This is also the first series victory as a captain for Suryakumar Yadav.

Travis Head, hero of Australia's triumph in the 50-over World Cup a few couple of weeks back, contributed 31 while skipper Matthew Wade blasted an unbeaten 36 off 23 balls. However, the Australians found the Indian spinners difficult customers on a pitch that did not offer much assistance to the spinners.

Axar got the wickets of Travis Head, Ben McDermott (19) and Aaron Hardie (9) while Bishnoi dismissed Josh Philippe (8). Deepak Chahar claimed 2-44 as India left Australia needing to score 40 runs off the last 12 balls. But Mukesh Kumar and Avesh Khan bowled well to prevent them from getting those runs.

Earlier, a late charge by Rinku Singh, who blasted a 29-ball 46, and Jitesh Sharma, who hammered a 19-ball 35, helped India recover from a mid-innings collapse and scamper to 174/9 in 20 overs.

Rinku and Jitesh raised 56 runs for the fifth wicket before India lost a few wickets towards the end of the innings and managed only 174.

After Australia skipper Matthew Wade won the toss and inserted India in to bat first, the hosts raised 50 runs in the sixth over with openers Yashasvi Jaiswal and Ruturaj Gaikwad going great guns at the Shaheed Veer Narayan Singh International Stadium here.

In a stadium that was reportedly facing power problems because of allegedly unpair electricity bills, Jaiswal struck six fours and a six in his 28-ball 37 before pacer Aaron Hardie extracted extra bounce with a cross-seam short delivery outside off to have the Indian batter pulling to Ben McDermott, running in from mid-on.

India lost two quick wickets as Shreyas Iyer (8) and Suryakumar Yadav (1) departed, falling victim to Tanveer Sangha and Ben Dwarshuis respectively.

Ruturaj Gaikwad, who struck 32 off 28 balls hitting three fours and a six, was caught by Dwarshuis off Sangha as he attempted to go big over extra cover but edged it to short third man.

India were reduced to 111/4 in the 14th over before Rinku and Jitesh Sharma came together to raise a quick-fire half-century that propped up the Indian innings. Rinku slammed four boundaries and two maximums while Jitesh struck four and three sixes as they propelled India to 167 before the wicketkeeper batter was out, caught by Travis Head off Dwarshuis.

Trying to raise as many runs as possible, India lost five wickets in the last two overs starting from the fourth ball of the 19th over. Jitesh Sharma (18.4), Axar Patel (18.5) and Rinku Singh (19.1) got out over three consecutive balls spread across two overs while Deepak Chahar (19.3) and Ravi Bishnoi (19.6) also fell in the final over.

For Australia, Ben Dwarshuis claimed 3-40 while Jason Behrendorff (2-32) and Tanveer Sangha (2-30) claimed a couple of wickets apiece.

Brief scores:

India 174/9 in 20 overs (Rinku Singh 45, Yashasvi Jaiswal (37), Jitesh Sharma 35, Ruturaj Gaikwad 32; Ben Dwarshuis 3-40, Jason Behrendorff 2-32, Tanveer Sangha 2-30) beat Australia 154/7 in 20 overs (Travis Head 31, Matthew Wade 36 not out; Axar Patel 3-16, Deepak Chahar 2-44) by 20 runs.



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