Ravindra Jadeja and his concussion substitute - Yuzvendra Chahal - helped India defeat Australia by 11 runs in the first Twenty20 International at Manuka Oval, Canberra on Friday (December 4). India looked down and out in the first innings before Jadeja smoked a 23-ball 44* to lead them to a competitive total. The all-rounder was struggling with his hamstring before he was hit on the helmet and according to the new guidelines, India were allowed the concussion sub.
Chasing 162, Aaron Finch got Australia off to a superb start before Chahal turned the game in India's favour by picking up 3/25. The legspinner became the first concussion substitute to win the player of the match award. Chahal found good support from the other bowlers as India restricted Australia to 150/7 in their 20 overs. The Men in Blue have now won all of their last nine completed T20Is.
INDIA'S TOP-ORDER FAILS TO IMPRESS
Earlier, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood were outstanding with the new ball and didn't allow Shikhar Dhawan (1) and KL Rahul (40-ball 51) to get off to a flying start. The two pacers managed to extract decent movement off the surface and kept both the batsmen quiet for the first two overs. Dhawan tried to go after Starc in the third over but the left-arm paceman knocked him over with a superb outswinging full-length delivery.
The pressure was starting to build on India but Virat Kohli announced his arrival by smashing Hazlewood for a boundary through deep mid-wicket. Rahul too joined the party and decided to take on Sean Abbott in the final over of the powerplay. The Karnataka batsman managed a four and a six off consecutive deliveries as India got 42 runs from the first six overs. Abbott tried to target Rahul with a short delivery but the right-hander smoked him over deep mid-wicket for a massive six.
Kohli however couldn't build on that momentum and once again was dismissed by a legspinner. The Indian captain could only score 9 before hitting one straight into the hands of Mitchell Swepson. The legspinner however was very inconsistent with his line and length and Rahul and Sanju Samson made the most of it. After being whacked by Rahul for a couple of boundaries, Swepson once again dropped one short to Samson and the right-hander slammed it over cow corner for a humongous six. The two took the attack to the Australian bowlers and managed to put them under some pressure.
Having struggled in the ODI series, Rahul returned back to his preferred position and responded with a well-crafted fifty. Meanwhile, Samson too was looking in great touch but couldn't convert it into something substantial. The Kerala batsman scored 23 off 15 before getting caught at extra cover. Playing his first match of the tour, Manish Pandey (2) too couldn't contribute much and was undone by Adam Zampa (1/20). The onus was on Rahul to convert his fifty into a big score but that didn't happen as he was caught at long-on while trying to take on Moises Henriques.
JADEJA SAVES THE DAY, ONCE AGAIN
It was once again up to in-form Hardik Pandya (15-ball 16) and Jadeja to propel India to a competitive total but the former became Henriques' third victim after hammering him for a six down the ground. The right-arm seamer finished with figures of 4/22 and made up for Abbott and Swepson who leaked runs at more than 10 runs per over. Jadeja however carried on and smashed a fiery cameo. The left-hander struggled a bit with his hamstring but that didn't hamper his batting.
Jadeja, who was brilliant with the bat in the ODI series, blasted three fours and a six in the penultimate over, slamming Hazlewood for 23 runs. The all-rounder smoked some ferocious shots in the last two overs and helped India accumulate 34 runs off the final 12 deliveries. Both Hazlewood and Starc kept bowling in his arc and Jadeja managed to clobber five fours and a six during his stay in the middle. While batting, he received a blow to the helmet and India used that as an opportunity to bring in Chahal as a concussion substitute.
CHAHAL AND NATARAJAN WIN IT FOR INDIA
With Jasprit Bumrah rested, Deepak Chahar and Mohammed Shami struggled to put any pressure on the Australian openers. The two hit the ball rolling by crafting Chahar for three boundaries in the very first over. Washington Sundar was economical but Shami couldn't get his line and length right. The right-arm paceman didn't vary his pace and that made Finch (26-ball 35) and D'Arcy Short's lives easier. Finch managed to carry forward his ODI form and took the attack to the Indian bowlers from the word go.
India were in desperate need of wickets and Chahar would have got rid of both the openers in the space of two deliveries if Pandey and Kohli wouldn't have dropped their respective catches. While Pandey dropped Short at backward point, Kohli put down a simple catch of Finch. The latter couldn't make the most of the opportunity he was provided as he fell to Chahal in the very next over. Finch tried to tonk Chahal out of the park but ended up mistiming it towards long-off where Pandya took a stunning catch diving forward.
Chahar, who conceded 13 in his first over, varied his pace and length in his second spell and looked way more threatening. However, it was the concussion substitute Chahal who was getting all the wickets. Steven Smith (9-ball 12) was just starting to get going before he tried to slog sweep Chahal but ended up getting caught at the cow corner. Before the dust had settled, debutant T Natarajan (3/30) pinned in-form Glenn Maxwell (2) right in front of the stumps and put India in a commanding position.
With Short struggling to get going, Henriques had to be aggressive from the word go and that's exactly what he did. The all-rounder first whacked Shami for a flat six before slicing Chahal past the man at point for a four. Natarajan however was impressive on his debut with his variations and got his second wicket in the form of Short who scored 34 off 38.
With 49 needed off 30, Washington bowled a phenomenal over, giving away just three runs. The offspinner didn't take a wicket but only conceded 16 off his four overs. Chahal then followed it up with another brilliant over and also dismissed Matthew Wade (7). Chahar then killed the game by pinning Henriques (20-ball 30) in the 18th over and returned with figures of 1/29. Natarajan and Shami then completed the formalities as India took a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.