Virat Kohli and Suryakumar Yadav were decisive with the bat as India dramatically sealed a series win over Australia with one ball to spare.

Australia were put into bat first by the hosts and they looked to be in a decent position when reaching 186-7.

India's response did not start impressively but the 104-run stand of Kohli and Yadav put Rohit Sharma's men back on track, eventually sealing victory – and the series – right at the end as their T20 World Cup preparations continued positively.

Cameron Green (52) was crucial to Australia's blazing start, though he did not get much support as Aaron Finch (7), Steven Smith (9) and Glenn Maxwell (6) all failed to even reach double digits.

Axar Patel (3-33) more than played his part with the ball, taking Finch, Maxwell and then Josh Inglis (24), who did at least contribute to providing a little more stability for Australia.

Tim David (54) top scored and Daniel Sams (28 not out) aided a late flurry, with their total looking unlikely to be toppled at the beginning of India's chase as KL Rahul (1) and Sharma (17) fell without making much of an impact.

But Kohli and Yadav soon took over as India made a massive dent in the deficit.

Sams (2-33) and Josh Hazlewood (1-40) eventually claimed their respective scalps, but Hardik Pandya (25) came in to see India over the line, with a thick edge off Sams ensuring they got the job done with a ball left.

India wield the Axar

Patel is surely in contention to be player of the series, with this another very impressive bowling performance.

His efforts ruined Australia's middle-order momentum and you can make a case for that being ultimately decisive on the day.

Yadav powers India into the ascendancy

This was a brutal showing with the bat. Yadav's 69 was off just 36 balls and came at a time when India desperately needed an injection of bravery.

Kohli definitely played his part, but Yadav attacked with even greater emphasis.

Mitch Duke and debutant Jason Cummings scored as Australia beat New Zealand 2-0 in Auckland on Sunday to secure back-to-back wins over the All Whites ahead of the 2022 World Cup.

The Socceroos had beaten New Zealand 1-0 in Brisbane on Thursday and triumphed again at Eden Park despite fielding an entirely different starting XI, netting twice in the second half.

New Zealand arguably were the better side in the first half with a handful of half chances, but lost star striker Chris Wood to an apparent rib injury in the 32nd minute.

Marco Tilio inexplicably missed a golden opportunity on the stroke of half-time from Duke's cutback before the Japan-based forward headed in Connor Metcalfe's cross in the 54th minute.

The hosts had a sniff in the 68th minute when Harrison Delbridge turned over possession in a dangerous area but substitute Alexander Greive fired straight at Australia goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne.

Exciting Socceroos teenager Garang Kuol made his debut as a substitute and burst forward to set up Riley McGree's chance, which was saved before Cummings' rebound was handballed by Liberato Cacace, resulting in an Australia penalty.

Scotland-born Cummings stepped up and converted the 81st-minute spotkick to secure the win in Australia's final game before announcing their World Cup squad.

Ian Foster says he has "forgotten about the rollercoaster" after New Zealand hammered Australia 40-14 to stand on the brink of retaining the Rugby Championship title.

The All Blacks put their trans-Tasman rivals to the sword in front of a capacity crowd at Eden Park, scoring five tries with Richie Mo'unga booting 13 points.

A resounding victory ensured South Africa need to a bonus-point win over Argentina by at least 39 points to claim the title later on Saturday.

It is not long since Foster was in danger of losing his job, with New Zealand suffering a home series defeat to Ireland before losing to the Springboks and Argentina in the Rugby Championship.

All Blacks head coach Foster said: "I've forgotten about the rollercoaster. I'm just happy in the moment.

"We've come into a championship, we've had, in our mind, the hardest draw by having both tests against South Africa in South Africa, got one out of two in that space, we've let ourselves down in Christchurch [in a defeat to Argentina], but our response to that has been really positive.

"We look at the last half of the championship and we're really pleased with what went in. All we can do is deal with what's in front of us right now.

"I know we've got a buffer [over South Africa] – whether it's enough I don't know. But we've given ourselves a chance and that's all we want."

Foster knows New Zealand remain a work in progress, but he has been impressed with the way they have knuckled down in challenging times.

He added: "All you can do, in the circumstances you get dealt, is try and find a way out of it and I think we've owned very clearly that we put ourselves in a situation. But I back the group we've got to get through an issue.

"I said at the time we're going through stuff that none of us had really gone through in an All Blacks jersey and it was hard. We just had to own it and we had to be the people who came up with the solutions.

"We've done some good problem-solving. We've worked hard, and it's given this team a little bit of steel and it's given us some harsh lessons we kind of wish we didn't have to deal with, but we did.

"In those situations you either fold and walk away because it's too hard, or you buckle up and get stuck into work.

"The work of the players has been phenomenal, and we're growing belief. But we've still got some steps to go."

Australia were again left "gutted" after being beaten by New Zealand for the second week running, with captain James Slipper accepting their performance "just wasn't good enough".

The Wallabies had lost 39-37 at home last week in dramatic fashion, but there was a far wider margin on Saturday.

The All Blacks were 17-0 ahead at half-time of the Rugby Championship clash after a pair of early Australia yellow cards and never looked likely to cede that comfortable advantage as they ran out 40-14 winners at Eden Park.

"That's a very disappointing outcome for us," Slipper told Sky.

"We wanted to come here and perform; we were really gutted with the result last week, and we had a lot of confidence coming in, but the ABs were too good, clearly."

He added: "I'm just gutted the way we performed. It just wasn't good enough."

Coach Dave Rennie bemoaned "way too soft penalties" on top of the early trips to the sin bin for both Jed Holloway and Dave Porecki.

Analysing the match, he said: "We got shaded everywhere, didn't we?

"I thought the All Blacks' defence was excellent; we had enough ball at times to find a way through and didn't.

"We didn't defend well enough, and you can't give a side like the All Blacks that much time and space. They're good enough to hurt us."

New Zealand put one hand on the Rugby Championship trophy with a dominant 40-14 victory over Australia in Auckland, leaving South Africa requiring a 40-point win later on Saturday to take the title.

The All Blacks never looked likely to give South Africa hope after Will Jordan raced home for the first try 23 minutes in, with Australia's ill-discipline costing them as the hosts went in search of a bonus-point victory.

New Zealand added a penalty try and then three second-half tries to wrap up an emphatic win over their Bledisloe Cup rivals, and simply require Argentina to avoid a mammoth defeat to the Springboks to retain their crown.

Australia were temporarily reduced to 14 men through Jed Holloway's yellow card just two minutes in, but New Zealand did not get off the mark until the Wallabies were back at full strength, with Richie Mo'unga kicking a 20th-minute penalty.

The All Blacks finally clinched the first try of the contest shortly afterwards when Jordan powered home after the ball was worked to the right, before Mo'unga added the extras.

Things quickly went from bad to worse for the disjointed Wallabies, with the All Blacks handed a penalty try and Dave Porecki being yellow carded after a collapsed maul 27 minutes in.

Although the Wallabies avoided further concessions to go into half-time 17-0 down, the All Blacks stretched their lead when Sam Whitelock went over three minutes after the interval, with a video review sticking with the on-field decision to award the try.

Mo'unga then added another penalty and, as the All Blacks looked to wrap up the all-important bonus point, a well-worked maul then saw Codie Taylor fall over the line as the hosts went 32-0 ahead.

Australia added two consolation scores through Folau Fainga'a and Jordan Petaia either side of Samisoni Taukei'aho going over, but the All Blacks richly deserved their margin of victory, which makes them favourites to lift the trophy.

Resurgent New Zealand on the brink

New Zealand are on the brink of another Rugby Championship title, which would represent a remarkable turnaround for an All Blacks team which came under huge pressure at the start of the campaign.

Ian Foster's men have now won four of their last five Tests after winning just one of their previous six.

If they clinch the title, this would be their sixth success in the last seven years - only South Africa in 2019 have denied them in that span.

Home comforts reign for All Blacks

Australia struggled from the off, producing a flat display, and have now lost three Tests in a row in the Rugby Championship for the first time since September 2013.

Meanwhile, New Zealand have posted five consecutive wins over Australia and have won each of the last 23 Tests between the teams in Auckland. The last time Australia got the better of their neighbours in that city was in 1986.

Rohit Sharma and Dinesh Karthik powered India to a six-wicket victory over Australia in an eight-over dust-up in Nagpur as the hosts levelled the series.

Chasing down Australia's 90-5, India reached their target with four balls to spare after Karthik cracked the first delivery he faced for six and followed up with a pull for four.

The outfield was considered too wet for the T20I match to begin on time after rain earlier in the week, and ground staff worked to make it playable, even if only for a reduced-overs contest. Play eventually began after 21:30 local time.

Australia won the first match in Mohali on Tuesday, making this second contest in the three-game series a must-win fixture for the hosts.

After being put in, Australia captain Aaron Finch rattled to 31 at the top of the order, before Jasprit Bumrah took his leg stump, and wicketkeeper-batter Matthew Wade cracked a brutal 43 not out from 20 balls.

KL Rahul (10) and Virat Kohli (11) just about made it to double figures as India set about their chase, but it was captain Sharma who pinned the innings together, with four sixes and four fours in his 20-ball 46no.

Daniel Sams was trusted with the ball for the final over as Australia looked for some heroics, but the paceman was flogged over the ropes by Karthik from the first ball before sealing victory with another boundary. The series decider takes place in Hyderabad on Sunday.

Finch sees Australia fall short

Captain Finch ended his three-match run of sub-30 scores in T20Is, but his efforts were not enough to catapult Australia towards a sufficiently high score.

The skipper said at the post-match presentation: "We just got out-executed a little bit towards the back end there. Rohit played a great innings."

He said India bowler Axar Patel (2-13), who claimed the wickets of Glenn Maxwell and Tim David, had bowled two "brilliant" overs, that were "probably the difference in the game".

Rohit hails returning Bumrah

Jasprit Bumrah made a timely appearance in India colours, with the T20 World Cup in sight. Sidelined recently by a back injury, the star fast bowler satisfied captain Rohit as he took 1-23 from two overs.

"Coming back after a couple of months from a back injury can be tricky. We've got to give more time to him. it was good to see him on the park. That was important for us, and he got a crucial wicket," Rohit said.

"Slowly and steadily, he's coming back to his rhythm. It was good to see him bowling full throttle, but as a team we're not going to analyse this too much, we just want to let him come and enjoy his game."

The final round of Rugby Championship fixtures are upon us and two teams are realistically left standing in the battle to be crowned 2022 champions.

In what has been the most competitive tournament since Argentina joined a decade ago, all four teams have at one point looked good value to finish top.

New Zealand are level with South Africa at the summit, but they have the advantage in terms of the sides' net points difference, which may be used as a deciding factor.

The All Blacks therefore know a bonus-point win over Bledisloe Cup rivals Australia in a repeat of last week's classic will all but land them an eighth title in 10 years.

South Africa play Argentina, the only side entirely out of the running, later on Saturday and will know what they have to do to have a chance – if any – of overtaking New Zealand.

Here, Stats Perform previews the weekend clashes in round six of the championship using Opta data.


NEW ZEALAND v AUSTRALIA

FORM

New Zealand beat Australia 39-37 in last week's thrilling Test in Melbourne through a hugely contentious late try to make it four wins in a row in this fixture – their best such run since winning seven on the bounce between August 2015 and August 2017.

The All Blacks' record on home soil against Australia is even better, having won each of the last 22 Tests in Auckland by an average margin of 18 points per game. The last time Australia got the better of their neighbours in that city was in September 1986.

Australia therefore have a huge task on their hands at Eden Park as they aim to avoid losing three Tests in a row in the Rugby Championship for the first time since September 2013, with this current run following a streak of six wins from their previous seven matches in the competition.

The Wallabies, who need a bonus-point win and would then hope South Africa fail to get the result required against Argentina, will look to exploit any ill-discipline from their rivals. Their goal-kicking accuracy of 92 per cent on place-kicks this year (33/36) is some 11 percentage points higher than any other Tier One nation.

ONES TO WATCH

Will Jordan has made 10 line breaks for New Zealand across 2022, which is the most of any player from a Tier One nation. To put that into some further perspective, it is double the tally of Tom Wright (five), Australia's best performer in that area.

Australia wing Marika Koroibete could hold the key to breaking down the hosts. The 30-year-old has beaten 23 defenders in 2022 – the most of any player from a Tier One nation and two more than New Zealand's best Rieko Ioane.

 

SOUTH AFRICA V ARGENTINA

FORM

Following last week's 36-20 bonus-point triumph in Buenos Aires, South Africa have won their past five Tests against Argentina. However, a win alone may not be enough on Saturday and the Springboks could find themselves going all out for an emphatic victory in pursuit of New Zealand.

The Boks have some much-needed momentum on their side thanks to two wins in a row – matching the number they managed in their previous seven games in the competition – with those victories coming by a margin of exactly 16 points.

Argentina cannot be written off, though, having already defeated New Zealand and Australia during the first half of their championship campaign. Los Pumas have lost back-to-back matches since then, as many as they lost in their six games prior.

Turnovers could be a huge factor in this contest as Argentina and South Africa have won the most of any teams in this year's tournament with 22 apiece, while also making the most and second-most tackles with 706 and 600 respectively.

ONES TO WATCH

Springbok lock Lood de Jager has played a big part for his country this campaign and is second only to Italy's Federico Ruzza for line-outs won among players from Tier One nations in 2022 with 36.

Matias Moroni was among the try scorers for Argentina in last week's loss when finishing off a well-worked set-piece and is among the starters for this latest tussle. He has made dominant contact on seven tackles this year, placing him second only to Italy's Monty Ioane (eight) among elite nations.

Awer Mabil's fine strike gave Australia a 1-0 win over New Zealand in the final home game for the Socceroos before their World Cup trip in November.

The Cadiz winger struck in style in the 32nd minute at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane. Jackson Irvine won possession in midfield before feeding Mabil, who cut in from the left flank and fired into the bottom-left corner from 22 yards.

These teams meet again at Eden Park on Sunday, and New Zealand, who missed out on World Cup qualification when they lost in a play-off to Costa Rica, should take heart from Thursday's display.

The visitors almost snatched a 10th-minute lead when Chris Wood's flick-on put Andre de Jong in on goal, and he jabbed a foot wide of the left post after getting behind the Australia defence.

Irvine missed the target from a big chance for Graham Arnold's Australia, and was then penalised for a questionable push when the hosts got the ball in the net in the 28th minute.

Mabil's goal four minutes later meant that was soon forgotten, with Australia settling for a narrow win in the end after Mathew Leckie shot against the outside of the left post late on, via a faint touch from New Zealand goalkeeper Oliver Sail.

Back rower Harry Wilson has been recalled by Australia for this weekend's Rugby Championship finale against New Zealand, as an injury-strewn All Blacks look to take a remarkable crown.

The two teams meet in the Bledisloe Cup just over a week on from the Wallabies' controversial loss in Melbourne against their rivals from across the Tasman Sea.

With immediate revenge on their minds after a dramatic 39-37 loss, Dave Rennie has recalled Wilson to the fold, shunting Rob Valetini to blindside flanker after Rob Leota's Achilles injury ruled him out for the rest of the season.

Cadeyrn Neville returns following a knee injury in place of Matt Philip, who sits the clash out with a sternum problem.

New Zealand have been forced to reshuffle the deck, meanwhile, after injuries left captain Sam Cane, Scott Barrett, David Havili and Quinn Tupaea out of the picture for Saturday's game in Auckland.

Sam Whitelock leads the side in Cane's absence, while Ardie Savea returns from parental leave, with Tupou Vaa'i, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Sevu Reece all included among the replacements.

New Zealand are level on points with South Africa – who host Argentina on Saturday – heading into the final round of matches.

New Zealand: Beauden Barrett, Will Jordan, Rieko Ioane, Jordie Barrett, Caleb Clarke, Richie Mo'unga, Aaron Smith; Ethan de Groot, Codie Taylor, Tyrel Lomax, Brodie Retallick, Samuel Whitelock, Akira Ioane, Dalton Papali'i, Ardie Savea.

Replacements: Samisoni Taukei'aho, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Nepo Laulala, Tupou Vaa'i, Hoskins Sotutu, Finlay Christie, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Sevu Reece.

Australia: Andrew Kellaway, Tom Wright, Len Ikitau, Lalakai Foketi, Marika Koroibete, Bernard Foley, Jake Gordon; James Slipper, David Porecki, llan Alaalatoa, Jed Holloway, Cadeyrn Neville, Rob Valetini, Pete Samu, Harry Wilson.

Replacements: Folau Fainga’a, Angus Bell, Pone Fa’amausili, Nick Frost, Fraser McReight, Nic White, Reece Hodge, Jordan Petaia.

Australia lock Darcy Swain has been suspended for six weeks for his reckless clean-out of New Zealand's Quinn Tupaea in last week's Rugby Championship clash.

Swain entered a ruck and made firm contact with the knee of All Blacks centre Tupaea, who suffered a ruptured medial cruciate injury and is facing nine months out.

The 25-year-old was shown a yellow card at the time and was cited after New Zealand's remarkable 39-37 Bledisloe Cup victory at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne.

A SANZAAR Judicial Committee ruled on Wednesday that Swain contravened Law 9.11, which states "players must not do anything that is reckless or dangerous to others".

Swain's ban extends to November 6, ruling him out of this weekend's return match with New Zealand, as well as tour matches against Scotland and France.

He had controversially been selected in Australia A's squad to tour Japan next month, with that seen as a ploy to use up the suspension.

However, by making the ban time-related, rather than match-related, that controversial ploy has been negated.

Asked about Swain's ban on Thursday, All Blacks coach Ian Foster said he was satisfied with the process.

"It is what it is," he said. "We spoke after the game and basically said there's a process that people go through. We're fully aware of that. He's got what he's got.

"I haven't read the judiciary [report], but clearly he's gone through a process and that's what they've come up with."

The England and Wales Cricket Board has confirmed the schedule for the men's and women's Ashes series in 2023, including a five-day Test for the latter.

Australia's men will start their defence of the urn at Edgbaston on June 16 and the five-match series will end earlier than usual at The Oval in a finale that will be staged from July 27-31.

Ben Stokes' England side will also face their fierce rivals at Lord's from June 28 to July 1, Headingley (July 6-10) and Old Trafford (July 19-23).

The five-day contest between England's women and the tourists will start at Trent Bridge on June 22, and will be only the second women's Test of that length ever after the same two countries played at the North Sydney Oval in 1992.

A multi-format series, the women's Ashes will see the Test match account for four points, while there will also be three ODIs and three T20Is, each worth two points.

The T20Is will be played at Edgbaston, Lord's and The Oval, the first time the venues will have hosted women's Ashes games in the format.

Australia completed a thrilling chase of 208 to take the lead in their T20I series with India, as Matthew Wade dragged the tourists over the line for a four-wicket win in Mohali.

India looked set for victory after setting a formidable target, rounded off by an unbeaten knock of 71 from Hardik Pandya.

But after Axar Patel (3-17) and Umesh Yadav (2-27) dealt with the Aussies' openers, Wade stepped up late on to earn the visitors their fourth consecutive win over India in the format.

India lost both skipper Rohit Sharma (11) and Virat Kohli (2) within the first five overs, but opener KL Rahul's half-century ensured they made decent progress thereafter.

Rahul – who received Rohit's backing as India's preferred opener ahead of the upcoming T20 World Cup last week – brought up 55 by the 12th over before being caught by Nathan Ellis from Josh Hazlewood's delivery. 

Australia's hopes of limiting the hosts to a low score soon evaporated, however, as Hardik took over with a superb knock – which included 48 runs in the final four overs of the innings – to carry India to 208.

Visiting captain Aaron Finch (22) was then clean bowled by Axar in the left-hander's first over with the ball, but Cameron Green led a strong response, scoring 61 before Patel doubled up with Australia reaching 109-2.

The hosts appeared to be closing in on victory when Dinesh Karthik claimed catches to dismiss both Steve Smith (35) and Glenn Maxwell (1) off Umesh's bowling, but Wade had other ideas.

The 34-year-old scored 45 off 21 balls – recording a strike rate only bettered by Hardik on the day – to carry his side to victory, getting the T20 world champions off to a flyer in the three-match series.

Hardik hard done by

Hardik's effort looked likely to prove decisive for much of the contest, and he can certainly bear no responsibility for the hosts' defeat after his outstanding showing.

Only Yuvraj Singh (58 v England in 2007) and Kohli (54 v Afghanistan in 2022) have bettered his total of 48 runs in the final four overs of an innings for India.

World champions send home records tumbling

While Australia made it four in a row against India in the shortest format, they also dealt a rare blow to Rohit's side on home soil.

Ahead of Tuesday's defeat, India had won 13 of their last 15 home T20Is, with their only two losses coming against South Africa in June. 

Meanwhile, this is the first time they have suffered a T20I defeat at the Punjab Cricket Association IS Bindra Stadium in Mohali, having won on all three of their previous outings there.

Australia will have their minds fixed firmly on the T20 World Cup when it comes to the decisions made in their series against India, so says Aaron Finch, who will go "back to basics" with the bat.

Finch's team will look to defend their world title on home soil in October and November, though their immediate focus is on a three-match T20I series with India.

The series starts in Mohali on Tuesday, with India aiming to snap a three-match home losing streak in the format to Australia.

Finch, meanwhile, comes into the series on the back of playing his 146th and final ODI for Australia, with the 35-year-old having confirmed his retirement from the 50-over game ahead of his side's final match against New Zealand earlier this month.

Since the beginning of 2018, no player has top scored for Australia in men's T20Is more often than Finch who has led the team's scoresheet on 13 occasions during this span. However, he has struggled for form in ODIs, only getting into double figures once from his last eight matches.

Finch has been better in T20Is, averaging 27.4 in his nine matches in 2022, though the last of those came in June.

 

Asked in a press conference if he would be changing his approach at the crease, Finch said: "I'll be looking to be more aggressive and take a few more risks upfront, but obviously balance that out with the normal process.

"You just have to go in really clear minded. I think the difference between T20s and ODIs is you're expected but you’re also prepared to take a decent amount of risk earlier in your innings.

"It's about being clear minded, working with what I know has worked well in the past and going back to basics in that regard of anything technical or set-up related."

Finch will not have a full-strength team to call on against India, with Mitchell Marsh, David Warner and Marcus Stoinis all left out, while Mitchell Starc is struggling with a minor injury.

As such, Finch is open to experimenting ahead of the tournament, with Steve Smith to bat at three and Tim David set for a debut.

"Every decision that we make has one eye towards the World Cup... so I think we'll be mindful of not being too narrow-minded," Finch said.

"Everything we're doing in the T20 space ties back into the World Cup and for us it's about making sure once we get there, we'll have plenty of different combinations for teams we want to play, because the last thing you want to do is have an injury derail your whole campaign because you're pigeon-holed into playing one style of cricket or one structure of team.

"There'll be a little bit of mixing and matching but with one eye towards the World Cup to make sure we're still as rounded as we can be as a squad."

Hazlewood to lead in-form Australia attack

With Starc injured, the onus will be on Josh Hazlewood to deliver for the tourists with the ball. The seamer has 46 wickets in T20Is, and if he gets four in Tuesday's game (his 31st T20I) to reach the 50 mark, will become the fourth fastest player to reach the milestone for Australia.

Australia's seam bowlers have registered a bowling strike rate of 15 in T20Is in 2022, the best such rate among all full-member sides.

 

Rahul, Kumar eyeing landmarks

KL Rahul was the subject of Rohit Sharma's press conference on Sunday, with the India captain insisting the opener would keep his place at the top of the order, though acknowledging Virat Kohli is an option for the role.

Rahul, who struck 62 against Afghanistan earlier this month, has defended his position, too, saying: "I am just working towards how I can better myself as an opening batter, and see how I can have the most impact for my team whenever I go out to play in the middle."

The 30-year-old is just 37 runs away from reaching 2,000 in T20Is, with only Rohit and Kohli having previously hit the milestone for India. Meanwhile, team-mate Bhuvneshwar Kumar (84) needs two more wickets to become the outright fifth-highest wicket-taker among seam bowlers in T20Is.

Rohit Sharma has confirmed KL Rahul is the first-choice opener for India ahead of the T20 World Cup, though former captain Virat Kohli is an option.

India face Australia, who host the upcoming World Cup as reigning champions, in a three-match T20I series starting on Tuesday.

With Rohit rested for India's final Asia Cup match, Kohli filled in at the top of the order and plundered an unbeaten 122 from 61 balls to help seal an emphatic 101-run win over Afghanistan.

Kohli's knock is the highest score by an Indian player in men's T20Is, overtaking Rohit's 118 against Sri Lanka in December 2017, while it also ended his 1,020-day wait for an international century.

Ahead of the first match in Mohali, Rohit told a press conference: "It's always nice to have options available to you. It is very important when you go in a tournament like a World Cup.

"You want the flexibility. We only talk about it, but this is actually what it means. You want your players to be in their best shape, batting in any position and so on.

"For us, when we try and do something new, it doesn't mean that is permanent. We understand the quality of all the players and what they bring to us. We do understand that, but it is an option for us. 

"We will keep that in mind that since we haven't taken a third opener, [Kohli] can obviously open. He opens for his franchise and has done really well. We saw that in the last match, and we are quite happy with what we saw. I don't think we will experiment for that position a lot."

Rahul struck 62 in India's win over Afghanistan, though he has not scored a century in the shortest format since 2018.

However, he remains Rohit's first pick.

"KL Rahul will play the World Cup, and open," Rohit affirmed. "His performances for India tend to go unnoticed. He is a very important player for India. If you look at his record over the last two, three years, it is very good.

"I don't think it is right to not consider one performance because someone else has performed. There is no confusion. We are very clear about what KL brings to us.

"He is a very, very important and quality player and a match-winner as well. His presence at the top is very, very crucial for us."

Dave Rennie has accused referee Mathieu Raynal of "showing a lack of feeling" over his match-turning decision to penalise Bernard Foley for time-wasting in Australia's 39-37 loss to New Zealand.

Australia had battled back valiantly from 31-13 down with an hour played in Thursday's thrilling Rugby Championship clash to lead 37-34 with time effectively up at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne.

The hosts seemed certain to have snapped a three-game losing run against New Zealand when Lalakai Foketi secured a turnover penalty in front of his own posts, only for Raynal to reverse the call due to perceived time-wasting.

New Zealand were handed a five-metre attacking scrum and eventually spun the ball wide, where Jordie Barrett had space to slide over and earn his side back-to-back Test wins for the first time this year.

Referee Raynal explained his decision was down to Foley failing to play on when the clock restarted, but Australia head coach Rennie was furious with the call.

"I was just talking to Bernard Foley and what we knew was the time was out and he told the boys to play but the clock was stopped," Rennie told Stan Sport. 

"So there was no real urgency to do that and I don't know... it just shows a little bit of a lack of feel for such an important moment in the game.

"The referee had told him to play and at no stage was he told or did he believe he was going to call a scrum from that.

"Most situations the clock is off and the clock stays off, so it sounds like the clock went off and then he started it again. As we know, a team scores a try late and you take your time getting back to halfway and they stop the clock and wait until you kick off.

"The disappointing thing from our point of view is it was a fantastic game of footy and we should be celebrating the game as opposed to talking about a ref decision in the last minute."

 

Wallabies great Matt Giteau used social media to describe Raynal's late decision as the worst he has seen. Asked if he agreed with that sentiment, Rennie opted against giving a comment.

The Wallabies have now lost 17 of their past 21 Tests against Australia, including each of the past four, and are no longer in contention to win this year's Rugby Championship.

"I'm absolutely gutted," Australia captain James Slipper said. "I don't know what else to say. We really wanted to put in a performance. That is probably the most gutting way to finish a game."

Australia, who have lost four of their past five Tests on home soil, travel to Auckland in the final round of fixtures next weekend. 

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