In a spectacular beginning for India’s tour of Australia, the two sides played out a humdinger at The Gabba with the hosts just about coming on top in a nail-biting finish. Opting to bowl first, Australia seemed to be headed into another Kuldeep catastrophe but were saved by a timely onslaught from Glenn Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis. The rain interrupted the duo’s surge but the Duckworth-Lewis system lifted Australia’s total considerably giving India a stiff target that seemed achievable when Shikhar Dhawan went bonkers. Virat Kohli and Dhawan falling in quick succession nearly sealed the game for the Aussies but a late carnage from Dinesh Karthik took India to the cusp of a win before Stoinis pulled things back in the final over. Take a glance at our first report card from the tour.
Kuldeep was once again the pick of the Indian bowlers. The left-arm wristspinner enjoyed the extra bounce at the Gabba and used his wrong ‘un cleverly to create doubts in the minds of Aussie batsmen. He had the Aussie skipper, Aaron Finch, stepping out to a googly and had him edging to short third man. After Lynn dug into Khaleel Ahmed, Kuldeep deceived his Kolkata Knight Riders’ teammate with another googly. He ended his day with impressive figures of 4-0-24-2.
Stoinis delivered a nerve-wracking last over, mixing up his pace and lengths, and successfully defended 13 runs in the final over. The all-rounder picked up the wickets of Krunal Pandya and Karthik in the last over and won the game for Australia. Earlier, he was involved in a game-changing partnership with Glenn Maxwell that took Australia to a formidable total after a mini-collapse against Kuldeep Yadav.
Zampa brought control to the Australian attack after the seamers were lambasted to all corners of the Gabba by Gabbar. He deceived KL Rahul with his quicker leg-breaks and despite putting down a gentle offering from Dhawan, Zampa made amends with the wicket of Virat Kohli, which tilted the game Australia’s way considerably. His four overs cost just 22 and yielded two massive wickets.
Dhawan came all guns blazing at the Gabba and made a scintillating 42-ball 76 studded with some audacious square of the wicket shots against the Aussie seamers. His T20 career has undergone a stupendous transformation this year and he is the leading run-getter in the format in International cricket this year. He was worked over by Billy Stanlake’s persistent short balls but showcased enough to suggest that he could be a thorn in the flesh for the hosts in the remaining games.
The Mumbai Indians seamer was at his measly best, giving away little in his spell and containing the big hitting Aussie batsmen. In the five balls after the rain break, Bumrah gave away just five runs and picked up the wicket of Maxwell to give India some much needed momentum heading into the innings break. Bumrah was unlucky not to get more wickets as Kohli and Khaleel put down a catch each off his bowling.
With Indian hopes drowned after Kohli’s dismissal, Dinesh Karthik injected some adrenaline courtesy a pulsating knock that included four fours and a maximum. His 13-ball stay at the wicket produced 30 runs – sharing a 51-run stand with Rishabh Pant in a 23 ball partnership – and gave India a shot at the target. Although he couldn’t do a Nidahas, Karthik once again exhibited his finishing prowess in the shortest format of the game.
In a calculated assault, Maxwell made full use of India’s listless bowling and plundered the left-arm spinner Krunal Pandya for three maximums in an over. Maxwell planned his attack carefully and launched into anything loose, while showing the sense to nudge around against the dangerous Kuldeep. He took just 24 balls for his 46 and lifted the Aussies from a precarious 75/3 to 153/3 in the company of Stoinis. He further pulled of a screamer in the final over of the run-chase to send back Krunal.
At his home venue, Chris Lynn was at his bashful best and plummeted Khaleel Ahmed for three sixes in an over at the massive Gabba. Using the ‘hit-me’ length Khaleel was bowling, Lynn cleared his front leg and went for his shots, clearing the fence with ease. His 37 came at nearly two runs a ball but just as he appeared to take Australia to the moon, Kuldeep Yadav prized him out with his googly.
Bhuvneshwar started off with a one-run over against D’Arcy Short, mixing up his outswingers and inswingers. He bowled three overs in the powerplay, restricting the areas of scoring with his immaculate channels. His remaining one over remained unused as the rain break forced the game into a 17-over per side affair. Bhuvneshwar’s new ball skills suggest that he could play a key role in the next two games of the series.
Stanlake was used up early by Aaron Finch but did his bit when he sent back Dhawan in an over where he barraged the southpaw with bouncers despite going for runs. The tall Aussie seamer knows a bit about the Indian opener after playing alongside him at Sunrisers Hyderabad and used the short ball to good effect. Stanlake, though, might want to ensure he doesn’t get too predictable by hitting the same length ball after ball.
Pant was involved in a breathtaking stand with Karthik that nearly took India over the line. The southpaw slammed 20 in 14 balls with a six and a four before Andrew Tye, the most expensive of bowlers in show, worked him over with a street-smart field. He was helped by a poor shot from Pant who tried to manipulate the field rather than back his strengths.
Let off early with Kohli dropping him off Jasprit Bumrah at short cover, Finch appeared to take some time to settle into his groove. Back-to-back boundaries off Bumrah gave Finch the confidence and with Lynn taking full toll of Khaleel Ahmed, Finch restricted himself to a second-fiddle. The Aussie skipper was undone by Kuldeep’s googly before he could build on his start. Finch further messed up his calculations while skippering in the run chase, leaving Stoinis and Tye to bowl at the death as he completed Stanlake’s quota early on.
Behrendorff was a tad expensive in his first over but a back of a length channel and extra bounce made him an enticing prospect against Dhawan, who played and missed thrice against the seamer. The skipper persisted with the left-armer for three overs in the powerplay and he bowled reasonably well. The fourth over, though, proved to be catastrophic as Dhawan dug into him with some pristine shots – slamming 16 of the 17 runs in the over. Australia, though, might want to show more patience with the seamer.
Known for his death bowling skills, Andrew Tye faced stiff resistance from his former Gujarat Lions mate Karthik, who played a major part in thrashing him for 36 in the final two overs he bowled. Tye’s knuckle balls and slower variations were clubbed to the fence by Karthik as the Australian, who is the top wicket-taker in the year in the format, appeared lost for ideas.
Rahul was pushed up to number 3 by Virat Kohli hoping to give the Kings XI Punjab opener the leeway to play his strokes in the powerplay overs. He started off with a few good looking shots but as has been the case with some of his ODI innings, Rahul failed to convert it to something substantial as he played all around a Zampa quicker one to be out stumped.
Playing and missing a couple in the opening over from Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Short had a shaky start to his innings. He tried to break the shackles against Khaleel Ahmed off the first ball the left-armer bowled and ended up miscuing it in the air to be dismissed for a 12-ball seven.
After a promising show against the Windies at home, Khaleel Ahmed received a reality check as ‘Lynnsanity’ took his listless length apart. He was struck for three sixes in an over by Lynn and let India down further when he put down Stoinis off Bumrah just before the rain break. Going for 42 in his 3 overs, the left-arm seamer had a dreadful day and will want to learn quickly from the mistakes he committed.
The usually economical Krunal had a horror day with the ball as the Aussie batsmen – Maxwell in particular who hit him for three sixes in an over – tonking his arm balls darted in from around the wicket. Krunal failed to vary his pace and length on a flat Gabba wicket and paid the price as he went for 55 in his four overs, the third worst by an Indian bowler in the format. With the bat, he walked in with India needing someone to back Karthik’s belligerence but couldn’t make much of an impact.
After facing very few balls in the first 20 balls of the innings, Rohit Sharma was visibly restless with Dhawan going hammer and tongs at the other end. The frustration showed when he attempted a scoop off a short ball from Stanlake and it didn’t take the Aussies long to send him on his way. Behrendorff, who had some success against Rohit when the Aussies toured India, had him miscuing a length ball to be dismissed for seven.
The skipper had a dreadful day as he fluffed a chance to give Finch an early reprieve and then made a fumble in the field. Some of his decisions – like bowling Khaleel to Lynn, Krunal to Maxwell and pushing Rahul above him – were questionable and on top of that he struggled to put together a good performance with the bat, edging Zampa to gully after a shaky start.
*Alex Carey, Ben McDermott weren’t rated owing to their minimal role in the match
Rating chart: 10-9: Excellent, 8-7: Good, 6-5: Average, 4-3: Poor, 2-1: Very poor