Yuzvendra Chahal turned out to be the perfect concussion substitute after an injured Ravindra Jadeja did his part with the bat. The duo played its role to perfection in India’s 11-run victory over Australia in the first T20 International here on Friday.
And to make matters worse, Chahal dismissed skipper Aaron Finch (35) and Steve Smith (12) in his first two overs. At the end, he also scooped the man of the match honours for his superb effort. Left-arm pacer Natarajan, whose nerves had eased after a decent ODI debut, was right on the money and got one to straighten, catching Glenn Maxwell plumb in-front.
If that wasn’t enough, Natarajan snuffed out a frustrated D’Arcy Short (34) to make it 113 for four. India didn’t have to look back from then on. Earlier, KL Rahul continued his impressive run in the shortest format with yet another fifty, but it took Jadeja’s brilliant back-end flourish to take India to a fighting total.
The India vice-captain hit 51 off 40 balls, but leg-spinner Adam Zampa (1 for 20) and all-rounder Moises Henriques (3 for 22) were brilliant with the ball. The pair’s tight bowling shifted the momentum in favour of Australia till Jadeja came into play. Between the 11th and 15th over, India scored just 22 runs and lost three wickets in Sanju Samson (23 off 15), Manish Pandey (2 off 8) and Rahul. However, Jadeja, who suffered from hamstring trouble, launched into Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc in the final two overs that yielded 34 runs. The southpaw’s unbeaten knock included five fours and a six.
The Indians found Zampa difficult to get away as he conceded only one boundary while Henriques conceded just a six. Rahul, who hit five fours and a six, as well as Samson and Hardik Pandya (16 off 15) were deceived by the pace of the pitch, where driving on the up wasn’t an easy job.
Brief scores: India 161 for 7 in 20 overs (KL Rahul 51, R Jadeja 44*, M Henriques 3/22) beat Australia 150 for 7 in 20 overs (A Finch 35, Y Chahal 3/25, T Natarajan 3/30)