India 174 for 9 (Rinku 46, Jitesh 35, Dwarshuis 3-40) beat Australia 154 for 7 (Wade 36*, Head 31, Axar 3-16, Chahar 2-44) by 20 runs
India were limited to 174 for 9 by some accurate death bowling from Australia, but they still defended the target and wrapped up the series, with one game left. Ravi Bishnoi and Axar Patel were central to India's successful defence, returning combined figures of 8-0-33-4, on a two-paced Raipur track.
Travis Head, who was the only player from Australia's World Cup-winning XI in this T20I, dashed out of the blocks in the chase, taking Deepak Chahar for 4,4,0,6,4,4 in the third over. Just as India's fans were beginning to feel a sense of déjà vu, Axar cut Head's innings short on 31 off 16 balls.
At the other end, Bishnoi let rip one wrong'un after another, posing a threat to the pads and stumps. Despite the absence of Glenn Maxwell, Australia's middle order battled, but the rapidly rising asking rate was too much to overcome.
That India got to a decent total was down to the attacking enterprise of Rinku Singh and Jitesh Sharma, who had replaced Ishan Kishan. Rinku and Jitesh were the only Indian batters to strike at over 150.
In the third T20I in Guwahati, Gaikwad was on a run-a-ball 21 at one point, but he then hit higher gears to finish with an unbeaten 123 off 57 balls. In the fourth game, Gaikwad had a similar sluggish start, but he couldn't find those higher gears. He managed 32 off 28 balls and attempted to hit a boundary only five times.
Jaiswal was more aggressive at the other end, scoring 37 off 28 balls before Aaron Hardie had him holing out on the last ball of the powerplay. Shreyas Iyer, who returned to the T20I side, then fell to legspinner Tanveer Sangha, as did Gaikwad.
Rinku, Jitesh crank it up
With captain Suryakumar Yadav also perishing cheaply, the onus was on Rinku to repair the innings along with Jitesh, who had made his T20I debut at the Asian Games earlier this year. Rinku, who came into bat in the ninth over, briefly tapped the ball into the gaps before he unleashed a ferocious reverse-swept six off Matt Short. In the next over, he charged at Ben Dwarshuis and smote him for a 100-metre six over wide long-on.
Jitesh, who is among the most explosive batters in the IPL and the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, India's domestic T20 tournament, also kept taking risks and kept the scorecard ticking. He hit three sixes and holed out in the 19th over when he attempted another one.
Dwarshuis and Jason Behrendorff were right on the money with their variations in the last two overs as India lost five wickets for only 13 runs during that period.
Spin to win
Bishnoi and Axar both fronted up to bowl in the powerplay and ended up giving away only two boundaries between them.
Bishnoi struck with his very first delivery, knocking out Josh Philippe's off stump for 8. Philippe was among five changes for Australia and in all both teams made nine changes on Friday.
In the next over, the fifth of India's defence, Axar drew a top-edged sweep from Head. Axar proceeded to dismiss Hardie and Ben McDermott with his stump-to-stump darts.
Axar's T20I future is uncertain - he is not part of the squad for the upcoming tour to South Africa - but he reminded the selectors that he's around as well with a statement performance.
Chahar, who was playing for India for the first time since December 2022, then did his bit with the old ball, dismissing Tim David (19) and Short (22) with his slower variations. Wade hit an unbeaten 36 off 23 balls, including two fours and two sixes, but it was not enough to keep the series alive.