Canberra, December 4
Yuzvendra Chahal turned out to be the perfect concussion substitute after an injured Ravindra Jadeja did his part with the bat in India’s impressive 11-run victory over Australia in the first T20 International here today.
While Jadeja smashed an unbeaten 44 off 23 balls to propel India to 161/7, his head injury turned out to be a blessing in disguise as India brought in Chahal as a substitute, and he took 3/25 against a home team caught completely off-guard. The hosts were restricted to 150/7.
Debutant pace bowler Thangarasu Natarajan (3/30) and off-spinner Washington Sundar also deserve credit for the roles they played in the win after the hosts had galloped to 53/0 in six overs.
Jadeja was hit on the helmet in the last over of India’s innings, and ICC match referee David Boon allowed India a “like for like” replacement, as mandated by the rules. Home team coach Justin Langer was visibly angry and seemed to dispute Boon’s decision.
Chahal dismissed two form men — Aaron Finch (35) and Steve Smith (12) — in his first two overs to turn the game on its head. To rub salt into Australia’s wounds, he also scooped the Man of the Match honours for his effort. The Australians were not prepared for Chahal, who bowled well, varying the pace of his deliveries and using the flight to good effect.
Natarajan, whose nerves had eased after a decent ODI debut, was right on the money and got one to straighten to get Glenn Maxwell LBW. He also snuffed out a frustrated D’arcy Short (34 off 38 balls) to make it 113/4, and India didn’t look back after that.
Rahul, Jadeja impress
Earlier, vice-captain KL Rahul continued his impressive run with yet another fifty but it took Jadeja’s brilliant back-end flourish to take India to a fighting total.
Shikhar Dhawan fell early when Starc, bowling at a scorching 145 km/h, bowled one that shaped away from Dhawan before knocking the off-stump back.
Rahul hit 51 off 40 balls but leg-spinner Adam Zampa (1/20) and all-rounder Moises Henriques (3/22) were brilliant from overs 11th to 15th, when India scored 22 runs and lost three wickets — Sanju Samson (23 off 15 balls), Manish Pandey (2 off 8 balls) and Rahul. Rahul’s first boundary was a mis-hit off Hazlewood over third-man, followed by a cover drive off Zampa. Another streaky boundary off Sean Abbott was topped up by a regal pull into the midwicket stands.
Inexperienced leg-spinner Mitchell Swepson repeatedly bowled short but did catch Virat Kohli off his own bowling with a ball that stopped on the Indian captain.
But Rahul punished him and so did Samson, who rocked back to hit him for a six. Rahul’s half-century came off 37 deliveries. However, Samson perished when he drove an Henriques off-cutter straight to Swepson at cover. Rahul, Samson and the dangerous Hardik Pandya (16 off 15 balls) were deceived by the pace of pitch, on which driving on the up wasn’t easy. However, Jadeja looked good as he struck five fours and a six. He launched into Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc in the final two overs, which yielded 34 runs. — TNS, agencies