Australia took on India at the Manuka Oval in Canberra in an attempt to reclaim the top position in the ICC T20I Team Rankings.
The Aussies were up against a team that has been dominant in the format of late. The visitors prevailed in a tight contest by 11 runs to extend their winning streak in T20I cricket to 9.
Aaron Finch’s decision to insert India in to bat looked to be paying fine dividends when the Men in Blue were gasping for breath at 92/5. The dismissal of the dangerous Hardik Pandya without him having too much of an impact on proceedings further tilted the scaled towards the Aussies. However, Ravindra Jadeja’s quickfire innings meant India rode into the Australian chase high on confidence.
The replacement of Jadeja by concussion substitute Yuzvendra Chahal worked out well for India, as a quick start was squandered by the home team. Collapsing in a heap, save for three scores in the thirties, Australia handed India a series lead that could have been theirs.
Here are the player ratings from the first India v Australia T20I match.
Australian skipper Finch made smart bowling changes. He restricted the Indian top-order with his most experienced pacers, before using his spinners and medium pacers to good effect in the middle overs. With the bat, he survived a dropped chance and looked good for his fourth successive 50+ score of the Indian tour, but he fell short after holing out to Chahal.
Significantly less impressive than his fellow opener, D’Arcy Short couldn’t quite capitalise on a good start within the powerplay. With just three boundaries to his name, Short hung around for 38 balls for his 34. Despite getting a stroke of luck when Virat Kohli shelled a straightforward chance, the southpaw did not trouble the Indian bowlers during his stay before falling to debutant Natarajan.
Steve Smith hit a glorious six over square leg to make his intentions clear in the run-chase, but didn’t last longer than 9 balls. A lofted shot found his Rajasthan Royals teammate Sanju Samson in the deep, as Smith departed with 12 runs to his name. Earlier, he did take a good catch to get rid of Hardik Pandya, although Australia would have expected more from him with the bat.
Australia’s biggest draw in the ODI series, Glenn Maxwell was out within 3 balls of his arrival to the crease. He would have survived too, but an ambitious review ended up game-turning and gave Natarajan his first T20I wicket. With no part to play with the ball, Maxwell was unable to mark his presence in any significant way.
Coming in as a replacement for Marcus Stoinis, Henriques held his own and was very effective with the ball in the middle overs for Australia. Scalping the wickets of KL Rahul, Sanju Samson and Hardik Pandya, the all-rounder ended up with better bowling figures – 3 for 22 – than the eventual Man of the Match Chahal. With bat in hand, he gave Australia a solid chance with his 20-ball 30, but was caught in front by Chahar. A review wasn’t able to save him either.
Australia’s gloveman in place of Alex Carey, Wade had little to do behind the stumps with no dismissals to his name. With the bat, he had an opportunity to take the game home, but struggled in his 7 off 9 balls. He fell in the 17th over to give Chahal his third wicket and leave the hard work to the inexperienced lower order.
Entering this game right after a thrashing by India in the final T20I, Abbott was not spared in this game either. He had to be taken out of the attack after just two overs for 23 runs. With the bat, he looked in control, but couldn’t quite threaten the Indian bowlers with a heist at the death.
Eventual figures of 2/34 from four overs would have looked even better without Jadeja’s late assault ruining Mitchell Starc’s bowling card a bit. A picturesque late outswinger to knock over Shikhar Dhawan was one of the sights of the day, probably only matched by Natarajan’s searing off-stump yorker that dismissed him off his second ball.
Playing only his second T20I, Mitch Swepson had his lengths all wrong in his two overs. But he did get one to bounce more than expected to bemuse Virat Kohli and have the Indian skipper hand a tame return catch. With the bat, Swepson showed good fight, although his boundaries came after it was mathematically impossible for Australia to win.
An outstanding bowling performance from Adam Zampa yet again stifled the Indians to just 20 runs from his four overs. Once again, Zampa dismissed an Indian middle-order batsman looking to get a move on by accounting for the struggling Manish Pandey. He had little to do in the chase except watch his efforts with the ball go in vain.
Australia’s experienced paceman Josh Hazlewood was pummelled by the Indians throughout the innings, aside from a decent start in the powerplay. With no wickets to show for in his four overs for 39 runs, Hazlewood was a major disappointment and may not feature in Australia’s long term T20 plans once the likes of Pat Cummins and Kane Richardson return.