KL Rahul was all class and power in his second successive fifty of the Men's T20 World Cup, while Suryakumar Yadav brought out the fireworks yet again with a whirlwind half-century to carry India to a mammoth 186/5 in 20 overs against Zimbabwe in their final Group 2 match in Super 12 stage at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Sunday.
After Rahul gave India a good start with his 35-ball 51, laced with three fours and as many sixes, including a 60-run stand off 48 balls for the second wicket with Virat Kohli, they fell into a mini wobble ahead of the last five overs stage coming in.
But Suryakumar changed the tempo of the match yet again with absolutely insane striking of the ball, smacking six fours and four sixes in a death overs batting masterclass at a strike-rate of 244 to end up with 61 not out off just 25 balls. His belligerent knock, laced with his trademark scoops and mesmerizing lofted shots, meant India got 79 runs in the last five overs.
Electing to bat first, Rohit Sharma got India's first boundary by presenting full face of bat for a gorgeous straight drive off Tendai Chatara in the second over. In the next over, KL Rahul swivelled Richard Ngarava for a six over deep square leg.
After Rohit placed a cut wide of backward point off Blessing Muzarabani in the fourth over, the tall pacer bowled a short ball to the Indian skipper, who pulled it straight to the fielder at deep square leg, departing for 15.
Kohli got off the mark off the very first delivery by clipping Muzarabani through fine leg for four and whipped Wellington Masakadza wide of mid-on later apart from finding the singles very quickly.
But Rahul, who played out a maiden opening over, was timing the deliveries well. When Muzarabani offered width, he stood tall to cut over backward point for four. When Ryan Burl flighted outside the off-stump, he came forward to smash a six down the ground.
On the very next ball, Rahul swiped against the turn from Burl just past deep mid-wicket for four. In the next over, on a slower short ball from Chatara, Rahul was quick to be on the backfoot and pull amazingly past mid-wicket for four.
But Zimbabwe made a comeback by picking a wicket each in overs 12, 13 and 14 while conceding 18 runs overall. Kohli holed out to long-off off Sean Williams. Rahul, after launching Sikandar Raza down the ground for a six to complete his fifty in 34 balls, holed out to long-off on the very next ball.
Rishabh Pant played a flat slog-sweep off Williams, but Burl ran full tilt to his left from long on and flung himself to take a superb diving catch. But Suryakumar got India moving by smacking Muzarabani for a brace of fours - scoop over fine leg was followed by lofting over mid-off.
Two balls later, Hardik Pandya flicked superbly through backward square leg for four as India ended 16th over with 18 runs. In the next over, Suryakumar stepped up the attack by placing a Ngarava full toss over third man for four and dispatched one over backward square leg for six to take 12 runs off the 17th over.
Suryakumar continued to toy with the field and bowlers' minds, scooping and lofting Chatara for four and six respectively in the 18th over. Against Muzarabani in the 19th over, he beautifully timed a straight drive which oozed elegance of the highest quality.
Though Pandya fell in the final over, Suryakumar continued to play jaw-dropping shots. He moved full stretch with his front leg way across the off-stump to whip off his wrists over backward square leg for six.
After reaching his fifty in 23 balls, he repeated the swipe wide of off-stump again to pick another four and ended the innings by scooping over fine leg for six to give a competitive total to India, enthralling a huge crowd.
Brief Scores: India 186/5 in 20 overs (Suryakumar Yadav 61 not out, KL Rahul 51; Sean Williams 2/9, Sikand