Concussion substitute Yuzvendra Chahal and debutant T Natarajan shone with the ball to help India kick off their three-match T20I series against Australia with a 11-run victory at the Manuka Oval in Canberra on Friday.
Australia won the toss and asked the Men in Blue to bat first. T Natarajan, who made his ODI debut recently during the third Austral, was handed his maiden T20I cap by pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah.
India made a not-so-good start to their innings as they lost opener Shikhar Dhawan and skipper Virat Kohli cheaply for one and nine runs,respectively.
Wicketkeeper-batsman KL Rahul, who came to open the batting for India today, then brought up a crucial half-century besides sharing a 38-run stand with Sanju Samson (23) to steady India’s innings.
KL Rahul finished with 40-ball 51 runs which was decorated with five boundaries and one maximum before he was dismissed by Moisis Henriques.
Subsequently, all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja smashed an unbeaten 23-ball 44 with the help of five fours and one six,while Manish Pandey (2) and Hardik Pandey (16) failed to add much to their side’s innings. Indian eventually put up a decent total of 161 for seven in their stipulated 20 overs.
For Australia, Moisis Henriques was the pick of the bowlers with figures of three for 22. While Mitchell Starc bagged two wickets, Adam Zampa and Mitchell Swepson chipped in with a wicket each.
India then replaced Ravindra Jadeja with leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal as concussion substitute, a decision which cost Australia and also appeared to have irked their head coach Justin Langer who was seen discussing the issue with match referee David Boon.
Jadeja was seen limping immediately after getting a blow on his helmet off a Mitchell Starc delivery in the last over.
Chahal went on to produce a match-winning performance as he bagged three crucial wickets of Aaron Finch (35), Steve Smith (12) and Mathew Wade (7) while conceding just 25 runs.
Meanwhile, Natarajan removed D’Arcy Short (34), Glenn Maxwell (2) and Mitchell Starc (1) to help India restrict Australia to a score of 150 for seven.
Chahal was declared ‘Man of the Match’ for his impressive show with the ball.
India, who have now taken a 1-0 lead, will look to clinch the series when they take on Australia in their second T20I at Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) on Sunday.