The Vizag Twenty20 International between India and Australia was a roller-coaster journey. KL Rahul slammed 50 but Nathan Coulter-Nile picked up 3/26 as India managed just 46 runs in 10 overs to finish on 126/7. In response, Australia started badly but a brilliant stand of 84 between D’Arcy Short and Glenn Maxwell got Australia back in the game. Maxwell struck a brilliant 56 off 43 balls but once he fell, the game swung in India’s balance. Pat Cummins and Jhye Richardson held their nerve and Australia won the clash by three wickets off the last ball to take a 1-0 lead in the two-match series. Speaking after the end of the match, Australia skipper Aaron Finch lauded the efforts of Maxwell.
“Maxwell played a hell of an innings on a difficult pitch. The run-outs did not help,” Finch said. Maxwell countered the spinners well, launching Yuzvendra Chahal for a four and a six to get going and also hammered debutant Mayank Markande over long on for his second six. The right-hander negotiated Krunal Pandya but once he fell for 56, Bumrah pounced on the opening and bowled brilliantly in the death overs. In the 19th over, Bumrah took two wickets and conceded just two runs to finish with 3/16.
“I think on that wicket, it got lower and slower. When Bumrah has an over up his sleeve, it's gonna be hard,” Finch admitted. Bumrah’s spell of 3/16 included 18 dot balls and he took 50 wickets in the process, becoming only the second bowler after Ravichandran Ashwin to achieve the feat but Australia got over the line on the last ball.
This was the first time India had lost two consecutive T20Is since 2016 but skipper Virat Kohli was not too flustered about the loss, stating that the batting was not up to the mark on this wicket. “In the first innings, we were not up to scratch. The wicket was decent enough till the 15th over. We didn't bat really well. A low scoring game is always on the cards in T20 cricket,” Kohli said.
Kohli, who became the first player to hit 500 runs in Twenty20 Internationals against Australia, heaped praise on Bumrah and the bowlers. The right-hander also praised KL Rahul’s knock on his comeback and said the team wanted to give Rahul game time before the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019. “We want to give Rahul and Rishab more game-time. Rahul played a really good knock and we had a good partnership. Had we gone on, we could have got 150, which would have been a match-winning score on this pitch,” Kohli said.
India take on Australia in the second and final Twenty20 International in Bengaluru on February 27.