Concussion substitute Yuzvendra Chahal (3 for 25) and debutant T. Natarajan (3 for 30) combined to bowl India to a stunning victory by 11 runs against Australia in the first T20I at Canberra.
Ravindra Jadeja’s unbeaten 44 from 23 and KL Rahul’s 51 were the chief contributors as India posted a challenging 161 for 7 in their 20 overs in the first T20I. Chahal and Natarajan’s brilliant bowling efforts then restricted Australia to 150 for 7.
Coming in as concussion substitute for Jadeja under controversial circumstances, Chahal got the wickets of Aussie big guns Aaron Finch and Steve Smith to keep India afloat in the defense of 161 in the opening T20I. He then returned to get Matthew Wade (7) caught off a mistimed sweep to finish with wonderful figures of 3 for 25.
After being dropped by Manish Pandey at backward point on 33, Finch threw his wicket away by trying to take on Chahal. Having slapped Deepak Chahar for a six, Steve Smith (12) too perished to the leg-spinner, hitting across the line.
Aussie coach Justin Langer was unhappy about Chahal being brought in as a concussion substitute for Jadeja in the first T20I, since the latter had batted on despite being hit on the helmet.
As if to prove a point, Australia started attacking Chahal from the word go. However, the move to take on the wily leggie clearly backfired. And when debutant T. Natarajan trapped Glenn Maxwell in front of the stumps with one that pitched on leg and moved away, the T20I had come alive.
— ICC (@ICC) December 4, 2020
Australia got off to a whirlwind start in a chase of 162 as openers Aaron Finch and D’Arcy Short added 57 for the first wicket in 7.4 overs. Finch (35 from 26) looked in the ominous form again in the first T20I as he began by dispatching Deepak Chahar for consecutive boundaries in the first over. The standout shot of his innings though was the nonchalant pick-up off Mohammed Shami that easily cleared the ropes.
Dropped by Virat Kohli on 18, Short struggled to get going in the first T20I and was eventually dismissed for 34 from 38. He holed out to long-on, failing to time a cross-seam delivery from Natarajan. Washington Sundar played his part in making things difficult for Australia, giving away only 16 in his four.
Moises Henriques, who had starred for Australia with three wickets, fought hard with 30. But his dismissal to Deepak Chahar, playing across the line and being trapped lbw, left Australia with little hope to win the T20I.
Earlier, Jadeja ensured India finished with a fighting total courtesy of a brilliant cameo of 44 not out from 23, hitting five fours and a six. The all-rounder took the attack to Josh Hazlewood (0/39) and Mitchell Starc (2/34) as 64 runs came from the last five overs.
KL Rahul’s 51 from 40 was the only score of note from the top five as Australia made India pay for some average batting.
INDIA WIN BY 11 RUNS 🇮🇳
— ICC (@ICC) December 4, 2020
Sent in to bat after losing the toss in the first of three T20Is, India got off to a poor start as left-arm seamer Mitchell Starc sent opener Shikhar Dhawan packing for 1. Dhawan was completely at sea as Starc bowled a fast outswinger that pitched on the middle and swung away.
Leg-spinner Mitchell Swepson then foxed Indian skipper Kohli (9) with a ball that gripped and got big on him. Sanju Samson perished to Moises Henriques for a 15-ball 23, driving a full ball straight to cover.
Henriques had his second when Rahul, having completed his half-century, tried to take on the medium-pacer, but only managed to find long-on as Sean Abbott took a terrific diving catch.
Rahul’s dismissal left India reeling at 92 for 5. Henriques had his third when Hardik Pandya (16) hit one high to long-off. Manish Pandey (2) also perished cheaply before Jadeja’s brilliance kept India in the hunt in the first T20I.
Ravindra Jadeja was magnificent with the bat during his cameo in the first T20I. Without his innings, India wouldn’t have had a good enough total to bowl at. Natarajan also made a sensational debut with figures of 3 for 30.
But, who would have thought at the beginning of the day that Chahal, who wasn’t in the original playing eleven, would end up as the man of the match? The leg-spinner’s two big scalps of Finch and Smith put India in command, and they sailed through after that.