Krunal picked up 4 for 36 to restrict Australia to 164 for 6 in 20 overs, before Kohli smashed an unbeaten 41-ball 61 to guide India home from tense situations. While Kohli applied the finishing touches, Shikhar Dhawan set the platform with a free-flowing 22-ball 41 as India won with two balls to spare.
Australia opted to bat and went strong until the spinners came into the attack. D'Arcy Short and Aaron Finch were hard on the new ball and took the attack to Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Khaleel Ahmed, adding 68 in under nine overs. Khaleel in particular was expensive, conceding 20 off his first two overs.
The pitch had even bounce, and the batsmen hit through the line with ease. All that changed once Kuldeep Yadav and Krunal Pandya came on. The pace reduced, and out came the cross batted shots. Finch was lucky to survive when Rohit Sharma dropped a simple catch at long-on off Krunal, but fell in the very next over when he top-edged a sweep off Kuldeep to short fine-leg.
Once Kuldeep provided the breakthrough, Krunal took over. Short and Ben McDermott fell in successive balls in identical fashion - lbw trying to sweep. Maxwell survived once when he reviewed an lbw decision off Kuldeep, but he too gave it away with a cross-batted shot when he smacked Krunal to long-on. This time, Rohit held on.
India and Australia threw punches alternately through the middle overs. Alex Carey went into the 20s quickly but fell when he slogged Krunal to deep mid-wicket. Chris Lynn, batting at No. 6, was run out after a mid-pitch confusion with Marcus Stoinis.
Australia finally got some momentum their way when Nathan Coulter-Nile joined Stoinis. Once the spinners were done with their quota, Stoinis and Coulter-Nile enjoyed pace on the ball to play useful cameos down the order. Australia managed 57 runs from the last five overs to post a competitive total.
For a brief while, it seemed like the target will be anything but competitive. Dhawan was in an aggressive mood, toying around with the bowlers with disdain.
With a high back-lift, Dhawan swung across the line and sent ball after ball through and beyond the leg-side boundaries. Coulter-Nile was smashed for 20 in an over. Stoinis was even costlier, conceding 22 in his first over.
With Rohit Sharma chipping in as well, India had raced past 60 in five overs. The carnage forced Finch to bring in Mitchell Starc, and the move did the trick immediately. Dhawan missed a quick, full ball and was leg before on review.
From there on, Australia's spinners applied the brakes. Adam Zampa followed it with a wicket-maiden, getting through the defences of Rohit in the very next over. Even Maxwell was tidy, conceding just 12 runs off his first three overs.
It was also a phase where KL Rahul looked completely out of touch at No. 4. He struggled to get going, managing just 14 off 20 - despite hitting a six - before holing out to the deep off Maxwell. Rishabh Pant fell in a soft manner the very next ball, gloving Andrew Tye to the keeper for a first-baller.
India managed only 22 runs between overs 11 and 15, with even Kohli subdued in the initial stages. Dinesh Karthik too managed only three runs off his first nine balls.
But when the time arrived - the equation came down to 40 off 24 - Kohli stepped up effortlessly. He smashed sixes off Tye and Maxwell, and soon raced past his half-century off 34 balls.
Karthik too joined in, smashing a six off Tye and a four off Starc, to make it easier for his captain.
First Published: November 25, 2018, 5:03 PM IST