Adelaide, Jan 26 (IANS) A strong bowling performance, coupled with a quickfire half-century by Virat Kohli helped India to a 37-run victory over Australia in the first Twenty20 International (T20I) at the Adelaide Oval here on Tuesday.
Chasing 189, Australia started strongly before losing wickets at regular intervals to slump to 151 all out in 19.3 overs. young pacer Jasprit Bumrah had a memorable T20I debut, returning figures of 3-23 in 3.3 overs.
Ravindra Jadeja (2-21), Ravichandran Ashwin (2-28) and another debutant, Hardik Pandya (2-37) also bagged a couple of wickets each as India took a 1-0 lead in the three-match series. Ashish Nehra (1-28) gave away a lot of runs in his first spell before clinching a wicket towards the end.
Earlier, Kohli stiched together a 134-run stand with Suresh Raina which brought the Indian innings back on track after the visitors had suffered a couple of early blows.
The Delhi batsman remeained unbeaten on 90 runs, smashing nine fours and two sixes during his 55-ball stint. Raina batted excellently at the other end, scoring 41 runs off 34 deliveries with three hits to the fence and a six. The duo helped India post 188/3 in their 20 overs. Kohli was adjudged the man of the match.
Captain Aaron Finch was Australia’s highest scorer with 44. He had four boundaries and a coule of sixes in his 33-ball innings.
Put in to bat by Australia, India were off to a flying start with Rohit Sharma producing the early fireworks. The Mumbai right-hander took a special liking to Shaun Tait’s bowling, hitting the pacer for a six and a four in the first over and then another couple of boundaries in the third.
With opening pacers Tait and Kane Richardson unable to control the Indian batsmen, Australia captain Aaron Finch was forced to make a bowling change, bringing James Faulkner and Shane Watson into the attack.
Faulkner was unlucky to miss out on a wicket in his opening over as a loose shot from Rohit saw the ball come off the top edge of the bat and fly towards third man where Cameron Boyce dropped a sitter.
But the disappointed home fans did not have to wait too long to celebrate as Watson struck twice in the next over. The right-armer sent back the dangerous Rohit with his very first ball as the opener drove an off-cutter straight to Faulkner at mid-on.
Watson dismissed Shikhar Dhawan just four balls later with a slower one as the Delhi batsman’s mistimed shot offered an edge to Matthew Wade behind the stumps.
That saw Kohli and Raina come together and they handled the Australian bowling with ease and by the time the partnership cam to an end in the final over, they had alrady guided the visitors to a big score.
Raina was unlucky to miss out on a half-century, and was dismissed while moving across the stumps and attempting to steer a Faulkner on the off-stump to the on-side. But the left-hander mistimed the shot as the ball went on to his the stumps.
India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni strode to the middle and brought the crowd to their feet by hitting his first two balls for a six and a four to end the Indian innings on a high note.
The Australians had strong start to their chase with openers Aaron Finch and David Warner going great guns. Although Warner departed in the sixth over after miscuing an attempted pull of Bumrah, Finch and Steven Smith found the gaps at frequent intervals to maintain a high scoring rate.
They scored 42 runs between them in just 23 deliveries before Jadeja and Ashwin struck in bac to back overs to peg back the Australians. Debutant Travis Head never looked comfortable during his five-ball stay in the middle before being trapped leg before by Jadeja.
Watson did not last long before offering skier to Nehra at short fine leg while trying to sweep an Ashwin delivery. Pandya then sent back Cris Lynn and Matthew Wade in consecutive overs to plunge Australia into deep trouble.