After going down in the One Day International series against Australia 1-2 Down Under, the Men in Blue started off proceedings in the T20 International series with a clinical 11-run win at Canberra on Friday. In the absence of Jasprit Bumrah, who was rested for the game, the Indian bowlers raised their game to defend 161 on a track that got better as the match progressed. The match had plenty of drama, as Yuzvendra Chahal walked away with the Man of the Match award despite not being a part of the initial XI. The spinner came in as a concussion substitute for Ravindra Jadeja, who was hit on the helmet during his knock of an unbeaten 44.
Despite the Australians getting off to a flying start, T Natarajan, who was making his debut in the game, along with Washington Sundar and Chahal, tightened the scoring rate in the middle overs, which proved to be the difference in the end.
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
Here are the talking points from the 1st T20I between India and Australia.
The domination of the wrist spinners
The day belonged to the wrist spinners from both Australia and India, who had a huge say in the game. From the home team, the duo of Mitchell Swepson and Adam Zampa were the key as they ended their combined 8 overs with figures of 2 for 41, with both picking up a wicket apiece. Swepson picked up the important wicket of the Indian skipper Virat Kohli, whose struggles against wrist spinners continued, while Zampa got the better of Manish Pandey, who got a nod ahead of Shreyas Iyer, who had not fired in the One Day series.
Team India, on the other hand, were led by Yuzvendra Chahal, who was not a part of the XI initially, but got a chance to play the game after Ravindra Jadeja had been hit on the hit by a Mitchell Starc delivery while batting. Chahal was called in as a concussion sub, and he took full use of his chance, picking up the crucial wickets of Aaron Finch and Steven Smith. He eventually ended with 3 for 25, and walked away with the Man of the Match award.
T Natarajan continues to impress in T20 cricket
T Natarajan, who had replaced Varun Chakravarthy in the Indian T20I team after the latter suffered an injury, impressed with his bowling showing in the first game against Australia on Friday by picking up 3 wickets. The debutant got the crucial wickets of Glenn Maxwell with a fine length delivery when the batsman was on just 2, D’Arcy Short and then castled Mitchell Starc with a fine yorker to pick up his third wicket of the game.
The left-armer ensured that Team India did not miss the services of Jasprit Bumrah – rested for the game – and Mohammed Shami – who had an off day – as he was at his economical best and tied down the rival batters with his trademark yorkers and accuracy. The pacer’s rise is excellent news for the Men in Blue who were in search of an effective left-arm seamer in the last few years. Though Khaleel Ahmed had been given ample opportunities, the young gun was inconsistent, and the management would hope that Natarajan could be the answer to their woes.
The controversy surrounding the presence of Chahal
Team India, who did not field Yuzvendra Chahal in the XI initially, were caught in controversy after the spinner was approved as the concussion substitute of Ravindra Jadeja. The left-arm all-rounder was hit on the head by a Mitchell Starc delivery en route his unbeaten 44 that helped India post more than 160 on the board, and though he did not leave the field during the time, he was declared unfit to take the field in the second half during the innings break. Chahal replaced Jadeja as a concussion sub, which is a new rule that the International Cricket Council have come up with.
However, the move did not go down well with Australian head coach Justin Langer, who was seen being involved in a war of words with match referee David Boon. Jadeja had not left the field immediately after being hit on the head and was struggling with his hamstring during his batting, which forced people to make up stories. However, Jadeja has now been ruled out of the remainder of the T20I series.
Can Manish Pandey play higher up the order?
Manish Pandey, who had a successful outing in the recent Indian Premier League, walked out to bat at number 5 in the first T20I against Australia at Canberra. The player, who did not get a chance in the One Day International series, got a look in after the poor run of Shreyas Iyer, but he failed to grasp on to his chances as he was dismissed by Adam Zampa when he was on 2. The dismissal forced critics to question if number 5 is the best position for a player like Pandey, who is more of an anchor in the format.
With Sanju Samson walking ahead of him at four, it would have made better sense to reverse the batting position of the two. Samson is a big-hitter and can smash the ball a long way at the death, while Pandey needs time to settle in before he gets going. We can expect Virat Kohli to make a few changes as far as the batting positions are concerned in the second game that will be held at Sydney on Sunday.