India started the T20I series against Australia on a fine note with a comprehensive 37-run victory in Adelaide. Australia T20 captain Aaron Finch won the toss and opted to bowl first. Rohit Sharma provided India with a flying start before Shane Watson, staging a comeback, sent India's openers back to the dressing room in his first over. It was Virat Kohli once again who turned out to be the star of the show for India, smashing 90 runs of 55 balls to propel India to 188. Suresh Raina, dropped from the ODI series, played an impressive supporting role with his 41 off 34, before Dhoni finished the first innings with a 3-ball cameo for 11 runs.
Indian bowlers backed the batting effort with a solid performance that saw Australia bundled out for 151, with seamers and spinners contributing in equal measure. But the pick of the lot was rookie pacer Jasprit Bumrah, who picked up three wickets, including that of David Warner and James Faulkner.
Cricket expert Ayaz Memon, in conversation with Firstpost's Manas Mitul, analysed India's performance in the T20 series opener.
"T20 is a lottery! The bowlers have come good because they took the wickets. That's what was missing in the ODI series. The bowlers will get more chances to get wickets (in T20 format) because the batsmen will more risks. The key was India setting a target of 189," Ayaz told Firstpost in a post-match conversation.
"It's a very stiff target though the pitch was flat. Consistently getting 9 runs an over is not easy even though Australia got a very good start like India. But the minute you lose a couple of wickets, you start steadying the innings and thus lose momentum. That's what happened to Australia," Ayaz said.
Ayaz commended the Indian bowling effort to restrict an in form Australian batting lineup and defend a score, something that they haven't been able to do in the ODI series.
On a flat pitch, slow bowlers did an excellent job with Jadeja and Ashwin picking up 2 wickets apiece. Ayaz lauded their telling effort. "Ashwin and Jadeja bamboozled the Aussies. Ashwin gave away 12 in his first over, people must have thought what is Dhoni doing, this not the IPL. But people judge harshly and hastily, he had an indifferent ODI series, but in T20 format he's an invaluable player, as he proved again." Ayaz said.
"Dhoni revels when his spinners are performing well for him. Ashwin, Jadeja have payed under Dhoni for long, they know him well, and he knows how to place the field for them I think that was crucial for India today. Bumrah of course was good, but these two spinners coming good was the telling factor."
"Aussies bat very deep and superbly. To get better of this side which is in-form, after losing 4-1 in the ODI series, I think is a terrific performance by India," he said.
Ayaz also talked about the inclusion of veterans Yuvraj Singh, Ashish Nehra and Harbahajan Singh for the T20 series. Yuvraj and Nehra made a comeback in Adelaide, but Harbhajan wasn't picked on the day.
"Yuvraj, Nehra and Harbhajan have been brought on a short-term basis, keeping in mind the World T20. But if they do well in this series and then in the World T20, they'll extend their careers by a couple of years perhaps. Raina too had to come back and make an impact after a dip in form that saw him being dropped from the ODI squad. All these experienced players, their talent was never in doubt but their current form and the pressure on them was a factor," Ayaz said.
Ayaz also lauded Dhoni backing Hardik Pandya, despite the debutante going fr 19 runs in his first over, in which he bowled five wides.
"Pandya had a nerve-shattering first over, but Dhoni stuck with him even though he didn't need to to. The captain's support helped the youngster,"
Ayaz praised 22-year-old Jasprit Bumrah's performance in the match. The youngster had impressed in the final ODI as well, taking two wickets.
"Bumrah was the pick of the lot among fast bowlers. He's got an awkward action, He bowls his yorkers almost at will. That's going to be a big positive going forward," he said.
India play the second T20I on Friday in Melbourne.
Firstpost's Game plan with Ayaz Memon will be streamed live on Periscope and on Firstpost website at the end of each T20I match in the series Down Under. Follow @FirstpostSports on Twitter for more details.
Match report: Bumrah, Kohli help India win 1st T20I against Australia
Adelaide: 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.