A disciplined bowling performance by the Indian team helped them register a comfortable 11 run victory over Australia in the first T20 match at the Manuka Oval.
The Indian team entered this format with plenty of experience and exposure courtesy the Indian Premier League 2020. But we cannot say the sam about their counterparts as they last played a T20I in September.
On that note, let us have a look on how the match panned out and a few turning points of the game.
A bright and sunny day greeted the two sides as Aaron Finch won the toss and elected to field first.
It was a new-look opening combination for the Indian team as K.L Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan marched out to take centre stage. The duo were the top two run-scorers in the recent edition of the IPL and have been in phenomenal form especially in this format of the game.
However, the visitors were jolted early as Dhwana was castled early in the innings courtesy an absolute peach of a delivery from Mitchell Starc. With Virat Kohli coming in at number three, the onus relied on the captain and his deputy to take the team to a decent total in the first innings.
Steading the innings with singles and twos, they scored 42 runs in the powerplay. However, immediately after the field restrictions were lifted, Virat Kohli was undone by a rank short delivery from Mitchell Swepson. The ball marginally gripped in the surface, and Kohli lobbed it back to the bowler to hand the home team their second wicket of the innings.
The bowlers tightened their grip on the Indian side with a couple of quiet overs. In an attempt to get the scoreboard ticking, the batting unit tried to take the attack to the opposition.
However, the slower deliveries of Moises Henriques led to the downfall of the Indian batsmen, who failed to get any sort of timing onto their big hits.
The 30-year-old, drafted in the side to replace an injured Marnus Stonis, finished with figures of 3 for 22 in his four overs.
With wickets tumbling at regular intervals, it was up to Ravindra Jadeja to take the team to a fighting total. The southpaw has been in sublime form in the series.
Jadeja was at his best as he smashed Josh Hazlewood for 23 runs in the 19th over. His unbeaten knock of 44 runs off 23 balls gave the Indian team much-needed impetus and helped them post 161 runs in the first innings.
Chasing 162 runs to win, Australia started in a commanding fashion with Aaron Finch and D’Arcy Short smashing the Indian bowlers all around the park. The duo forged a crucial 56 run stand for the opening wicket before the skipper was brilliantly caught by Hardik Pandya off Yuzvendra Chahal.
The leg spinner operating as a concussion substitute jolted the home team by picking up the prized wicket of Steve Smith a couple of overs later.
Despite being two wickets down, the match was well and truly in favour of the Australian side. However, it was the magic of the debutant T. Natrajan that swung the balance in favour of the Men in Blue.
The third ball of the 11th over, Natrajan was rewarded for his consistency of keeping it straight and on the stumps as he caught Glenn Maxwell right in front of the stumps.
While the on-field umpire adjudged it not out, it was the optimum use of Decision Review System (DRS) by Virat Kohli that helped them pick up the all-important wicket.
The right-handed batsman was an exceptional in the one-dayers scoring 167 runs at a strike rate touching almost 200 and his wicket with nine overs to spare turned the match in favour of the visiting side.
The home team failed to recover from this big blow and lack of partnerships coupled with the pressure of the run rate resulted in the team faltering in the first game of the series by 11 runs.
With 3 wickets each for Yuzvendra Chahal and Natrajan, they dented the batting order of the Aussies and helped the Indian team take an early lead in this series.