India register11-run win over Australia in the first T20I.
A spirited all-round performance from India saw them register a comprehensive 11-run win over Australia in the first T20I here at the Manuka Oval on Friday. The 1-0 lead in the three-match series is just how the visitors would have wanted to start after losing the ODI series 2-1.
If KL Rahul (51) and Ravindra Jadeja (unbeaten 44 off 23 balls) guided India to a respectable 161/7 in their 20 overs, Yuzvendra Chahal — brought in as concussion substitute for Jadeja — took the stage by storm with ball in hand and finished with match-winning figures of 3/25. Not to forget the brilliant show from debutant T Natarajan as he picked three wickets for 30 runs from his four. Chahal took the field in the second innings after all-rounder Jadeja was hit on the helmet in the last over of the India innings and the BCCI medical team decided to assess the player before allowing him to get on with proceedings. Chahal was brilliantly supported by Natarajan as the former changed the momentum of the game despite not being named in the initial playing XI.
Chasing a decent target of 162, Aaron Finch and D’Arcy Short provided a fyling start. The duo added 53 runs in the powerplay and smashed Indian bowlers across the park.
Chahal, in his first over, removed skipper Finch (35) in the eighth over. Steve Smith joined Short in the middle and accumulated 16 runs for the second wicket. The team then suffered a blow as they lost two quick wickets in successive overs. Chahal struck again and bagged in-form batsman Smith (12) while Natarajan caught explosive batter Glenn Maxwell (2) in front of the wickets.
Earlier, Jadeja played the role of a finisher to the tee as he hit 33 off the 34 runs that came in the last two overs. The southpaw tore into the Australian bowling in the last two overs and anything in the arc went into the stands as he finished with a strike-rate of 191.30.
India skipper Virat Kohli made it clear that the team had no plans to play Yuzvendra Chahal in the opening T20I against Australia. Not only did fate see Chahal walk in to bowl, but also the spinner ended with the Man of the Match award at the Manuka Oval on Friday.
Coming in as a concussion substitute after bowling all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja was hit on the head in the final over of the India innings, Chahal finished with figures of 3/25 from his four overs. Most importantly, it was Chahal who broke the opening partnership between Aaron Finch and D Arcy Short by sending back the Aussie skipper. “There were no plans of having Yuzi in the game. Concussion replacements are a strange thing. Today, it worked for us. Yuzi showed character to squeeze the opponents. I thought they had a great start. They were cruising. The batters offered us a few wickets. That is T20 cricket for you,” Kohli said at the end of the game.
The India skipper also praised the players for showing intensity, especially how Jadeja hit a whirlwind unbeaten 44 off just 23 balls. “In Australia, you need to play hard and show intensity till the end. He batted beautifully in the last game,” the captain pointed.
While Kohli was all praise for his bowlers, he also pointed at Hardik Pandya and how his brilliant running catch helped the team send Finch back to the hut. Finch’s dismissal was just the sniff Chahal needed to make further inroads.
Australian skipper Aaron Finch didn’t raise any questions on India’s use of the concussion substitute and said that one cannot challenge a medical expert’s opinion.
Several former cricketers had expressed displeasure after India spinner Yuzvendra Chahal took the field in the second innings of the opening T20I against Australia as a concussion substitute for all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja. Jadeja, who played a spectacular knock to power India to a defendable 161/7, was hit on the helmet in the final over of the innings and the BCCI medical team decided to assess the player before allowing him to get on with proceedings.
Former cricketers claimed that India used the substitute without following the desired protocol as Jadeja didn’t undergo a concussion test after he was seen limping in the final over.