India drew the first blood in the three-match T20I series over Australia as they register an 11-run victory in the first T20I at Manuka Oval in Canberra on Friday. The likes of KL Rahul (51), Ravindra Jadeja (44*), Yuzvendra Chahal (3/25), and T Natarajan (3/30) shone with their prowess as they propelled Team India to their eighth consecutive win in T20Is, and with this win under their belt, the Men in Blue have an excellent chance to pocket the series in the forthcoming contest.
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Being put to bat first, the tourists encountered a bit of trouble in the first seven overs, as they lost the wickets of Shikhar Dhawan (1, 6b) and skipper Virat Kohli (9, 9b) to Mitchell Starc and Mitchell Swepson respectively and the scorecard read 48/2 in 6.4 overs. Rahul continued with his boundary hitting alongside Sanju Samson (23, 15b), and the duo eventually contributed 38-runs for the third-wicket partnership.
Post Samson’s departure while trying to smash Moises Henriques over the covers, the momentum shifted in Australia’s favor as neither Manish Pandey (2, 8b) nor Hardik Pandya (16, 15b) could render much havoc. With the scorecard now reading 114/6 in 16.5 overs, the chances looked glim for a competitive total, however, a blistering 23-ball 44* from all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja that comprised 5 fours and a six and at a striking rate of over 190 pushed the Kohli-led side to 161 runs at the end of twenty overs.
In response, Australia could aggregate only 150 runs with openers Aaron Finch (35, 26b), D’Arcy Short (34, 38b), and Moises Henriques (30, 20b) emerging as top run-getters for the Aussies.
There were no plans of having Yuzi in the game, says Virat Kohli
“There were no plans of having Yuzi (Chahal) 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,” said the 32-year-old in the post-match presentation.
In the end, the Delhi-born cricketer lauded the efforts for the intensity they showed throughout the nerve-wracking encounter.
“In Australia, you need to play hard and show intensity till the end. He (Ravindra Jadeja) batted beautifully in the last game. Natarajan looks like he can improve a lot. Chahar bowled well as well. Chahal got us back in the game. Hardik’s catch was a game-changer as well,” he added.
Chahal, who was eventually awarded as the Man of the Match for his figures of 4-0-25-3, was roped in as a concussion substitute in the second innings after Ravindra Jadeja was hit by a bouncer of Mitchell Starc in the final over of the first innings. Coming into the side, the leg-spinner gave the touring side the much-needed breakthrough with wickets of Australian skipper Aaron Finch (35, 26b), Steven Smith (12, 9b), and lastly wicket-keeper Matthew Wade (7, 9b) to cut down the run-chase.
“I have played so many games and was mentally fit. 10-15 minutes before the start of the innings, I got to know I will play. The way Zampa bowled, I tried to do the same as well. It was a little harder to score in the first innings. 150-160 is a good score on this wicket. I bowled according to my plans,” said Chahal.
Among the remaining Indian bowlers, Washington Sundar was pretty economical with a figure of 0/16 in his four overs. Deepak Chahar picked a solitary while Mohammed Shami had an off day as he remained wicketless and ended up conceding 46 runs.
Speaking on Jadeja’s concussion and Chahal coming in as his replacement in the second innings, Finch stated that the decision proved costly for the hosts as the match progressed. He further highlighted how the Aussies couldn’t curtain runs in the death overs and didn’t get the boundaries in the last six overs, especially, when they required 58 off 36 deliveries.
“The injury got progressively worse as the game went on. Their doctor had ruled Jadeja out due to concussion. You can’t be challenging a medical expert’s opinion. We probably leaked too many runs at the death. Then while chasing, we didn’t hit too many boundaries in the 6-over period,” said Finch.
India will now aim to take a 0-2 lead in the 3-match series in the second T20I on December 6 at the Sydney Cricket Ground, in Sydney.