The Indian spinners were on the mark during the 1st T20 International against Australia at Canberra on a day when the batters from the side were unable to break the shackles. Despite scoring just 1616 in their first innings, the Men in Blue managed to pull back the game even after a flying opening partnership by the hosts. The 11-run win was Team India’s eighth successive win in the format, which is their best streak thus far in T20 Internationals. The Virat Kohli led team are also yet to lose a game in the format this year.
The second innings of the game belonged to Washington Sundar and Yuzvendra Chahal, who was in the news after being called in as a concussion substitute in the second innings. Chahal, who was not a part of the XI, came in for Ravindra Jadeja after the all-rounder had been hit on the head in the first innings, walked away with the Man of the Match award for his 3 wickets that changed the complexion of the game. In total, Sundar and Chahal combined to bowl their eight overs for figures of 3 for 41, including 20 dot balls, in their eight overs.
Sundar, who has been phenomenal in the first six overs of late, was at it again in the powerplay overs as he ended with figures of 0 for 9 in the two overs that he sent down initially. T Natarajan, who was making his debut in the format, was the first wicket-taker for Team India, breaking the 56-run stand for the opening wicket. He eventually ended with figures of 3 for 25, with his wide and slow deliveries making it tough for the batters in a big ground.
Sundar was then brought on by the skipper for one over spells after Natarajan had sent back Glenn Maxwell and D’Arcy Short in quick succession. With Chahal firing at the other end, the home team could never find momentum as they conceded the series lead.
Australia, though, had reason to feel frustrated as Chahal, who was not a part of the XI, walked away with the Man of the Match award after coming in as a concussion replacement for Ravindra Jadeja, who had been hit on the head while batting in the first innings. The move, however, was met with anger from the Aussie camp as the all-rounder had also been struggling with a hamstring injury during the second half of his crucial innings. Head coach Justin Langer was up in arms with match referee David Boon, who had termed Chahal as a like for like replacement for Jadeja.
What the International Cricket Council rules say about fielding a concussion sub:
- 188.8.131.52 In assessing whether the nominated Concussion Replacement should be considered a like-for-like player, the ICC Match Referee should consider the likely role the concussed player would have played during the remainder of the match, and the normal role that would be performed by the nominated Concussion Replacement.
- 184.108.40.206 If the ICC Match Referee believes that the inclusion of the nominated Concussion Replacement, when performing their normal role, would excessively advantage their team, the Match Referee may impose such conditions upon the identity and involvement of the Concussion Replacement as he/she sees fit, in line with the overriding objective of facilitating a like-for-like replacement for the concussed player.
Chahal, who was ineffective in the recent One Day International series and was ignored for the first T20 International, grasped on to his chances as he made run-scoring difficult in the middle overs. The Aussies had gotten off to a flier with a fine 56-run stand as Team India erred in their tactics and line and lengths. Deepak Chahar, who is known for extracting swing with the new ball, bowled just over upfront, while Mohammed Shami was average, conceding 0 for 21 in the first six overs, before e=finishing with figures of 0 for 46 off his 4 overs. Though Sundar was effective and lethal, he did not find good support, as the Aussies had the upper hand.
The fact that Team India dropped Aaron Finch and D’Arcy Short – surprisingly Kohli and Manish Pandey, the two best fielders in the team, were the culprits – did not help their chances as the Aussies looked well on course before Chahal and Natarajan wreaked havoc.
Earlier, the Men in Blue did not get off to the best start with the bat as Shikhar Dhawan was the first wicket to fall, off a beautiful outswinger by left-arm seamer Mitchell Starc. The team played out as many as 15 ot balls in the first six overs, scoring just 42 for 1 after the completion of the first six overs. Moises Henriques was once again the X-factor as his slower deliveries stalled the run-flow, and India were in all sorts of trouble before Jadeja came to the rescue.
The all-rounder joined Hardik Pandya in the middle of the 14th over when the side were in a spot of bother. They had scored just 6 runs off the last 17 balls for the loss of 3 wickets, and the onus was once again on the all-rounders to see the team to a competitive total. Though Pandya fell while trying to clear the boundary, Jadeja held one end up as he smashed an unbeaten 44 off just 23 balls. He was particularly harsh on Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc before a bouncer that hit his helmet ruled him out of the match, and the remainder of the T20I series.
The next T20I is on Sunday at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
Brief Scores: India 161/7 in 20 overs (KL Rahul 51, Ravindra Jadeja 44*; Moises Henriques 3-22) beat Australia 150/7 (Aaron Finch 35, D’Arcy Short 34; Yuzvendra Chahal 3-25, T Natarajan 3-30) by 11 runs