Guwahati, November 28

R

uturaj Gaikwad's fireworks in the death overs helped India set Australia a daunting target of 222/3 in the third T20I at the Barsapara Cricket Stadium in Assam on Tuesday.

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Gaikwat went unbeaten, showcasing why he is touted as the next big thing in Indian cricket. After operating at a strike rate below 100 initially, the right-hander opened out in the latter half of the Indian innings, going at a strike rate of over 215.

Australian left-arm seamer Jason Behrendorff bowled a mean spell at the start of the Indian innings, sending back opener Yashasvi Jaiswal, who slammed a quickfire fifty in the previous match, for six.

Behrendorff produced an exceptional opening burst, picking up one wicket at the expense of just five runs.

Right-arm pacer Kane Richardson, too, stifled the Indian run charge and picked up Ishan Kishan for a five-ball duck.

However, Ruturaj and skipper Suryakumar Yadav then came together to stabilise the innings, with the latter going after Nathan Ellis, Tanveer Sangha and Aaron Hardie.

The T20 batting ace brought his 360-degree skills to the fore, accumulating 32 runs in four overs, in the company of Ruturaj.

Ruturaj, who was going at a strike rate below 100 at the time, launched an assault on the Aussie attack, slamming Sangha to the fence.

The skipper, who was going great guns at 39, was sent back by Hardie halfway through the Indian innings.

After the fall of Surya's wicket, Ruturaj put his foot on the pedal and scored at a strike rate of over 185, racing to the nineties in no time.

Tilak Varma, at the other end, gave Ruturaj good company, rotating the strike and also finding the fence at will.

India reached the 150-run mark in the 17th over, with the visitors still in with a chance to keep the hosts to under 200.

However, Hardie's inexperience proved his undoing, as Ruturaj tore into him in the 18th over, smacking him for 25 runs with three sixes and a boundary.

Skipper Matthew Wade's gamble to give Glenn Maxwell the final over didn't pay off either, as Ruturaj completed his ton with a maximum of the first ball of the 20th over.

The opener's fireworks continued thereafter as he stepped out of his crease to send another over to the stands and picked up a third straight six, pulling Maxwell over the square boundary as he dropped short.

Of the final ball, too, he picked up a boundary to propel India's score to 222/3.

In the final over of the Indian innings, which was Maxwell's first, he conceded 30 runs.

Brief Scores: India 222/3 (Rutuaj Gaikwad 123(57)*, Suryakumar Yadav 39; Kane Richardson 1-34).

Ruturaj Gaikwad slams unbeaten ton, propels India to 222/3 against Australia in 3rd T20I

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