A spirited all-round performance from India saw them register a comprehensive 11-run win over Australia in the first T20I here at the Manuka Oval on Friday. The 1-0 lead in the three-match series is just how the visitors would have wanted to start after losing the ODI series 2-1.
If KL Rahul (51) and Ravindra Jadeja (unbeaten 44 off 23 balls) guided India to a respectable 161/7 in their 20 overs, Yuzvendra Chahal -- brought in as concussion substitute for Jadeja -- took the stage by storm with ball in hand and finished with match-winning figures of 3/25. Not to forget the brilliant show from debutant T Natarajan as he picked three wickets for 30 runs from his four.
Chahal took the field in the second innings after all-rounder Jadeja was hit on the helmet in the last over of the India innings and the BCCI medical team decided to assess the player before allowing him to get on with proceedings. Chahal was brilliantly supported by Natarajan as the former changed the momentum of the game despite not being named in the initial playing XI.
Chasing a decent target of 162, Aaron Finch and D'Arcy Short provided a fyling start. The duo added 53 runs in the powerplay and smashed Indian bowlers across the park.
Chahal, in his first over, removed skipper Finch (35) in the eighth over. Steve Smith joined Short in the middle and accumulated 16 runs for the second wicket. The team then suffered a blow as they lost two quick wickets in successive overs. Chahal struck again and bagged in-form batsman Smith (12) while Natarajan caught explosive batter Glenn Maxwell (2) in front of the wickets.
Short and all-rounder Moises Henriques then stitched a partnership in pursuit of the target. The duo dragged the side from 75/3 to 113/4 before Short was picked by the Tamil Nadu speedster in the 15th over. Short played a slow knock of 34 runs off 38 balls and held one end up.
After Short's dismissal, Aussies lost wickets at regular intervals and restricted them to 150/7 in their 20 overs. Matthew Wade (7), Henriques (30) could not put their side over the line as Chahal and Natarajan kept the foot on the pedal.
Earlier, Jadeja played the role of a finisher to the tee as he hit 33 off the 34 runs that came in the last two overs. The southpaw tore into the Australian bowling in the last two overs and anything in the arc went into the stands as he finished with a strike-rate of 191.30.
The 19th over saw Jadeja smash 23 runs that included three boundaries and a six. Having lost the way in the middle overs thanks to some consistent bowling from the hosts, it required Jadeja to show the way as he sent the Australian bowlers on a leather hunt.
After electing to bowl first, Australia got immediate reward as Mitchell Starc sent Shikhar Dhawan (1) packing in the third over. The bad start went worse when a few overs later, Mitchell Swepson got the prized wicket of skipper Virat Kohli (9).
Sanju Samson then joined opening batsman KL Rahul and the duo started rebuilding the innings after India finished the powerplay overs on 42 with 8 wickets in the bag. At the halfway mark, India's score read 75/2 and just when things started to look good, Samson hit one straight to the cover as Henriques picked his first wicket of the day.
The wicket of Samson triggered a middle-order collapse as India lost Manish Pandey and Rahul in quick succession as the Men in Blue slipped from 86/2 to 92/5. Jadeja though kept his cool and ensured that the visitors ended the innings on a high.
Brief Scores: India 161/7 (KL Rahul 51, Ravindra Jadeja 44*; Moises Henriques 3-22); Australia 150/7 (Aaron Finch 35, D'Arcy Short 34; Y Chahal 3-25, T Natarajan 3-30)