Melbourne: India finally broke through for their first win of the tour thanks to a dazzling display in the field in the second T20 at the MCG. Ravindra Jadeja provided the spark - and did no harm to his chances in Saturday's IPL auction - with a pair of run-outs as Australia's batsmen were constricted by intense pressure from the fielders, and the Australians were dismissed in the 20th over for 131.
That was always going to be hard to defend and so it proved, India reaching the target with two balls to spare and eight wickets in hand to draw the series 1-1. They began the chase needing only a fraction above six an over and as a result spent much of their innings in cruise control, Gautam Gambhir able to amble along at less than a run a ball without ever letting the pressure build.
The only time a hint of worry might have entered the Indian camp was when five dot balls came towards the end of the chase, and George Bailey had all his fielders in the ring in the final over with one run required. But Gambhir found a gap at midwicket to strike a boundary off Clint McKay and finished on 56 not out from 60 balls, with MS Dhoni on 21.
Virender Sehwag provided some excitement with one enormous six back over the head of the bowler Xavier Doherty but it was the only one in India's innings. They didn't need any more. Sehwag was caught at cover off a Brad Hogg full toss for 23 and Virat Kohli, who made a quick 31, was brilliantly caught when Matthew Wade dived to his right off the bowling of Mitchell Marsh, but they were Australia's only two moments to celebrate in the field.
The Australians had to build more pressure and while their work with the ball and in the field was not bad, it lacked the zip shown by their Indian counterparts. Four Australian batsmen were run out and another was stumped, the younger men brought in for the limited-overs games providing the energy that India lacked in the Tests.
It all started with Jadeja, who got rid of two of David Hussey's partners with run-outs and then picked up the wicket of Hussey off his own bowling. The big wicket was that of Aaron Finch, who was sent in alongside David Warner at the top of the order and showed his power with six fours, five of which were through the off side.
Finch launched drives and cuts at anything wide of off and at one stage he had aggregated more than 100 Twenty20 international runs without being dismissed, but that changed quickly. Finch was caught short when Hussey pushed into the off side and tried for a single that wasn't there, Jadeja's throw getting rid of Finch for 36 from 23 balls.
And the captain George Bailey departed soon afterwards when he overcommitted as Hussey steered the ball to backward point, where Jadeja collected and threw to the bowler's end with Bailey (3) a long way short. Then Jadeja induced a leading edge off Hussey, who made 24 from 29 balls, and that wicket left Australia in trouble at 5 for 93.
The fine work kept coming. On 13, Mitchell Marsh was stumped off Rahul Sharma, Dhoni collecting the ball close to the stumps and with no give in his gloves, he hardly had to move to whip the bails off and find Marsh just out of his ground. That was followed by what was effectively a knockout blow for Australia, when Matthew Wade was run out for 32 off 29 balls.
Wade had slog-swept a six and after his outstanding innings on Wednesday, he seemed like the man who might carry Australia to a competitive score. But he pushed to cover and took off only to be turned back by Brett Lee, and Rohit Sharma's excellent direct hit had Wade short despite his full-length dive.
Next ball, Clint McKay edged behind off Vinay Kumar for a golden duck and Australia's hopes of a late run surge took even more of a dive. They were dismissed with two balls to spare, when Doherty was run out thanks to sharp work from Suresh Raina, whose throw was collected by Dhoni. Australia had lost 4 for 9 since the start of the 19th over, with Brad Hogg having been trapped lbw for 4 off Rahul Sharma the ball before the Doherty run-out.
Australia's innings had got off to a poor start with the early loss of David Warner, who was caught at deep midwicket for 8 when he skied a ball off Praveen Kumar. And Shaun Marsh's miserable summer continued with a second-ball duck, his limp prod outside off resulting in an edge to first slip, where Sehwag parried the ball up to Dhoni to give Praveen his second wicket.
It was an excellent way for India to begin, and they didn't let the advantage slip. Now the question is whether they can carry some of this spark into the one-day series.