by Elton Gomes
A sloppy India failed to achieve the perfect start to their Australia tour. The Indian team lost the rain-affected opening T20 International by four runs at the Gabba in Brisbane on Wednesday.
After winning the toss and opting to bowl first, India initially faltered in the field, and allowed Australia to score 158 for four after rain shortened the match to 17 overs a side. Glenn Maxwell was the star batsman for Australia, after a remarkable 46 off 24 balls. The 45 minute rain stoppage meant that India were set a revised target of 174 runs in 17 overs.
India started well, with opener Shikhar Dhawan smashing a sublime 76 off 42 balls. Dinesh Karthik then came up with a pulsating 30 off 13 balls towards the end. However, India fell short after finishing on 169 for seven.
It was a morale boosting win for Australia, who have not had a very good run in limited overs cricket. Glenn Maxwell and Marcus Stioinis attacked the Indian bowling and manged to amass 78 runs off 37 balls. For the Men in Blue, Krunal Pandya had a forgettable day with bat and ball, after going for 55 runs in his four overs before rain intervened.
Coming in to bat, Shikhar Dhawan spearheaded India’s response. Dhawan kept smashing boundaries at will even as wickets kept tumbling at the other end. Rohit Sharma (7), KL Rahul (13), and Virat Kohli (4) were dismissed in quick succession. But Dhawan seemed determined to finish the chase. However, once he was dismissed for 76 in the 12th over, Australia were in a commanding position.
Dhawan and Rahul put on 46 runs for the second wicket, but most of the work was done by Dhawan. He hit ten fours and two sixes overall, and reached his ninth T20I half-century in only 28 balls.
Rahul struggled for timing. He was stumped off Adam Zampa (2-22) in the ninth over, with the leg spinner also accounting for skipper Virat Kohli (4) who failed to gather momentum after coming in.
An increasing asking rate took a toll on Dhawan, leaving Rishabh Pant (20 off 15 balls) and Karthik with a mountain to climb. Pant and Karthik almost did the impossible and managed to put on 51 runs off 24 balls. But Pant played yet another loose and unnecessary stroke, and threw his wicket away.
Rishabh Pant’s dismissal was turning point, says Virat Kohli
Right from the beginning of the match, India lost wickets at crucial junctions, which eventually gave the hosts a four-run win in the shortest format of the game.
Speaking after the match, Indian skipper Virat Kohli said, “It was a close game, exciting one for the crowd to watch and for the players as well. Was a see-saw battle,” as per a report in the Indian Express.
He stated that the quick fall of wickets in the middle overs was one of the primary reasons why India lost. Kohli said that he believed that Rishabh Pant and Dinesh Karthik would lead India to victory, but things changed after Pant was dismissed. Kohli said, “We started well with the bat, fumbled in the middle overs, in the end we thought we’ll win with Pant and Karthik but it changed again with Pant’s dismissal,” as per the Indian Express report.
Elton Gomes is a staff writer at Qrius