The hosts scored 158-4 in a match that was curtailed to 17 overs a side because of rain. They then held their nerves, despite a belligerent 76 from 42 balls by Shikhar Dhawan to restrict India to 169-7 who were chasing a revised target of 174.
Leg-spinner Adam Zampa was the pick of the Australia bowlers as he finished with 2-22 from his four overs. All-rounder Marcus Stoinis proved his worth by first smashing 33 not out from 19 balls, before picking up 2-27 from three overs – including a superb final over – to secure victory.
Here, we take a look at what we learnt from the opening clash.
WRIST SPINNERS CALL THE SHOTS
Wrist spinners from both sides had a great outing in the first T20.
India’s left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav kept a tight lid on the scoring as he took the crucial wickets of Aaron Finch and Chris Lynn with finely disguised googlies, going for just 24 runs.
Australia leg-spinner Zampa was even better, getting the prized scalp of Virat Kohli (4) through a googly and had KL Rahul stumped for 13. Batsmen on both sides struggled to hit the wrist spinners which should expedite the return of leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal to the Indian side, in place of either spinner Krunal Pandya (0-55) or seamer Khaleel Ahmed (1-42 from three).
POOR FIELDING HURTS INDIA
India had a below average day in the field.
Captain Kohli started it by dropping a straightforward chance off Finch at cover. The Aussie captain was on six and ended up making 27.
Then, India missed a simple run out opportunity offered by Stoinis when he was on nine and then dropped him again on 30.
Zampa too dropped Dhawan when the Indian batsman was on 65, but that didn’t hurt the hosts much. They held on to other opportunities, especially in the final over – with India needing 13 – where they held on to two chances down the ground under pressure.
Australia’s energetic effort in the field turned out to be one of the major deciding factors.
STOINIS THE STAR
All-rounder Stoinis had a remarkable day.
He first smashed a quickfire 33 before holding his nerves in a tense final over, bowling slower bouncers and smart wide deliveries to keep India at bay.
A quality seam bowling all-rounder offers excellent balance and looking at Stoinis’ star performance, the Indians will be missing the recovering Hardik Pandya even more.
INDIA’S BATTING ORDER WOES
Also, I don't see the need to have Rahul at 3 if he's to bat like that. He's not looked in any rhythm, better have Kohli there and play Rahul as backup opener only.— Nikhil 🏏 (@CricCrazyNIKS) November 21, 2018
India sent Rahul at number three, followed by Kohli.
The two ended up scoring 17 runs from 20 balls and got out to leggie Zampa. With the required rate of 10 and Dhawan going hammer and tongs at the other end, it was an unwise move.
India will need to shuffle their line-up and have Kohli at No3 because he has to face the most number of deliveries and have others bat around him. What will give Kohli even more headache is the fact he can only have five proper bowlers no matter what combination he goes with, which means there is no one to fill in for a bowler who is having an off day, like Krunal had on Wednesday.
That makes it even more important for Kohli to bat at number three followed by Rahul, as India don’t have batting depth and need to score their runs early on.
RELIEF FOR AUSTRALIA
It has been a tough 2018 for Australia and given India’s good record in T20s against them – 10 wins and five defeats – the odds were stacked against them.
Despite a slow start against some world-class seam bowling from Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah, the Aussies targeted India’s weak bowlers to pile on the runs.
With the ball, they kept at it despite a late onslaught by Dinesh Karthik and Rishabh Pant. A win is the perfect way to start what is expected to be a tough series and Australia will be proud of the fact they ticked every box in Brisbane.
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