India level series with Australia as Rohit leads way and Karthik finishes off eight-over Nagpur slog
Rohit Sharma and Dinesh Karthik powered India to a six-wicket victory over Australia in an eight-over dust-up in Nagpur as the hosts levelled the series.
The outfield was considered too wet for the T20I match to begin on time after rain earlier in the week, and ground staff worked to make it playable, even if only for a reduced-overs contest. Play eventually began after 21:30 local time.
Australia won the first match in Mohali on Tuesday, making this second contest in the three-game series a must-win fixture for the hosts.
After being put in, Australia captain Aaron Finch rattled to 31 at the top of the order, before Jasprit Bumrah took his leg stump, and wicketkeeper-batter Matthew Wade cracked a brutal 43 not out from 20 balls.
KL Rahul (10) and Virat Kohli (11) just about made it to double figures as India set about their chase, but it was captain Sharma who pinned the innings together, with four sixes and four fours in his 20-ball 46no.
Daniel Sams was trusted with the ball for the final over as Australia looked for some heroics, but the paceman was flogged over the ropes by Karthik from the first ball before sealing victory with another boundary. The series decider takes place in Hyderabad on Sunday.
Finch sees Australia fall short
Captain Finch ended his three-match run of sub-30 scores in T20Is, but his efforts were not enough to catapult Australia towards a sufficiently high score.
The skipper said at the post-match presentation: "We just got out-executed a little bit towards the back end there. Rohit played a great innings."
He said India bowler Axar Patel (2-13), who claimed the wickets of Glenn Maxwell and Tim David, had bowled two "brilliant" overs, that were "probably the difference in the game".
Rohit hails returning Bumrah
Jasprit Bumrah made a timely appearance in India colours, with the T20 World Cup in sight. Sidelined recently by a back injury, the star fast bowler satisfied captain Rohit as he took 1-23 from two overs.
"Coming back after a couple of months from a back injury can be tricky. We've got to give more time to him. it was good to see him on the park. That was important for us, and he got a crucial wicket," Rohit said.
"Slowly and steadily, he's coming back to his rhythm. It was good to see him bowling full throttle, but as a team we're not going to analyse this too much, we just want to let him come and enjoy his game."