Dubai: For the first time on their tour of Australia, India looked somewhat in their comfort zone as they beat Australia by 11 runs in the first of the three-match T20 series at Canberra on Friday. Their win, however, was tinged with a dash of controversy as Yuzvendra Chahal - who was allowed as a ‘concussion substitute’ for Ravindra Jadeja - caused maximum damage alongwith T. Natarajan as they claimed three wickets each to scuttle the hosts’ chase of a target of 162.
If KL Rahul (51) and Jadeja (unbeaten 44 off 23 balls) guided India to a respectable 161 for seven in their 20 overs, Chahal struck vital blows by removing Aaron Finch and Steve Smith in his first two overs and ended with match-winning figures of 3/25. Debutant T Natarajan vindicated the selectors’ faith in him as he also picked up three wickets.
The feisty Jadeja, who hit 33 of the 34 runs that came in the last two overs for India, batted with a hamstring strain, was also hit on the helmet in the last over following which India availed of the substitute. He top-edged Mitchell Starc on to his helmet on the second ball of the 20th over. The blow was hard enough to ricochet off the helmet to backward point where the catch was dropped. Jadeja wasn’t given a concussion test on the spot.
The ICC officials approved the substitution, which meant they were satisfied based on the advice of India’s team doctor that Jadeja was concussed, and that Chahal was a like-for-like replacement for Jadeja, both being spinners.
The decision didn’t go down well with Australia coach Justin Langer though, as he was seen remonstrating with match referee David Boon just before the start of the chase. Captain Finch also stood by during the discussion, but didn’t appear to say anything. Chahal, the replacement, ended up with the wickets of Finch and Steven Smith in his first two overs Chahal 4-0-25-3.
Langer was not the only one who was irked at the decision as former England captain Michael Vaughan also questioned India’s use of the substitute without following the desired protocol as Jadeja didn’t undergo the concussion test after he was seen limping in the final over.
“No Doctor or Physio came out to Test Jadeja for concussion ... he then looks like his has done something to his leg ... then they pull the concussion replacement,” Vaughan tweeted.
The penultimate over saw Jadeja smash 23 runs that included three boundaries and a six.
Earlier, after electing to bowl first, Australia got immediate reward as Starc sent Shikhar Dhawan (1) packing in the third over. The bad start went worse when a few overs later, Mitchell Swepson got the prized wicket of skipper Virat Kohli (9).
Sanju Samson then joined opening batsman KL Rahul and the duo started rebuilding the innings after India finished the powerplay overs on 42. At the halfway mark, India’s score read 75/2 and just when things started to look good, Samson hit one straight to the cover as Moises Henriques picked his first wicket of the day.
This concussion might put Jadeja in doubt for the rest of the series, and that could be bad news for India. The ICC protocol says: “Generally, concussion symptoms will settle within two-three days and a player diagnosed with a concussion is ready to return in about a week but, in some individuals, this time might be shorter or longer. Medical oversight, as occurs in elite teams, is essential if a player is to return to play within a week or on a subsequent day of a multi-day match.”
KL Rahul c Abbott b Henriques 51
S. Dhawan b Starc 1
V. Kohli c and b Swepson 9
S. Samson c Swepson b Henriques 23
M. Pandey c Hazlewood b Zampa 2
H. Pandya c Smith b Henriques 16
R. Jadeja not out 44
W. Sundar c Abbott b Starc 7
D. Chahar not out 0
Extras (lb2, nb1, w5) 8
Total (for 7 wickets, 20 overs) 161
Fall of wickets: 1-11 (Dhawan), 2-48 (Kohli), 3-86 (Samson), 4-90 (Pandey), 5-92 (Rahul), 6-114 (Pandya), 7-152 (Sundar)
Did not bat: M. Shami, T. Natarajan
Bowling: Starc 4-0-34-2 (2w), Hazlewood 4-0-39-0 (1nb), Zampa 4-0-20-1, Abbott 2-0-23-0 (1w), Swepson 2-0-21-1, Henriques 4-0-22-3 (1w)
A. Finch c Pandya b Chahal 35
D. Short c Pandya b Natarajan 34
S. Smith c Samson b Chahal 12
G. Maxwell lbw Natarajan 2
M. Henriques lbw Chahar 30
M. Wade c Kohli b Chahal 7
S. Abbott not out 12
M. Starc b Natarajan 1
M. Swepson not out 12
Extras (lb4, w1) 5
Total (for 7 wickets) 150
Fall of wickets: 1-56 (Finch), 2-72 (Smith), 3-75 (Maxwell), 4-113 (Short), 5-122 (Wade), 6-126 (Henriques), 7-127 (Starc)
Did not bat: A. Zampa, J. Hazlewood
Bowling: Chahar 4-0-29-1, Sundar 4-0-16-0, Shami 4-0-46-0, Chahal 4-0-25-3 (1w), Natarajan 4-0-30-3
Result: India win by 11 runs
Umpires: Rod Tucker (AUS) and Shawn Craig (AUS)
TV Umpire: Paul Wilson (AUS)
Referee: David Boon (AUS)