New Delhi: Fresh off a tensely-fought but disappointing Asia Cup campaign and a largely successful North Queensland mini season respectively, India and Australia Tuesday came into the T20 series with a view to fine tune combinations and test depth amid injuries, ahead of a bumper World Cup month.
Although Mohali’s IS Bindra Stadium saw a closely fought opening encounter between the T20 heavyweights, Aaron Finch’s Australia side came out as victors by 5 wickets on a flat pitch that predictably offered significant assistance to aggressive batting.
ThePrint takes a look at some key talking points on the back of the first T20 of the three match series.
Hardik & SKY put Asia Cup disaster behind them
Two of India’s most destructive hitters, two former Mumbai Indians teammates, two underwhelming performers in the Asia Cup. Such was the story of Hardik Pandya and Suryakumar Yadav in the recently concluded Asia Cup that saw India fail to make the final. But in Mohali, the duo made the most of the conditions after early dismissals of Rohit and Virat Kohli, dispatching the Australian bowlers to all parts of the ground.
Chahal crumbles while Axar bangs down the selection door
On a night when nearly every Indian bowler was put to the sword at the death by Matthew Wade in particular, the big story was the contrast in the middle overs between India’s premier leg spinner Yuzvendra Chahal and the slow left arm understudy to the injured Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel. While Chahal continued his poor returns from the Asia Cup and his plans were figured out instantly by Wade and Josh Inglis, Axar appeared unplayable, bamboozling the Australians with figures of 3-17. India may be prudent to take a 2019-21 era Delhi Capitals approach by employing both Axar and Ashwin at the World Cup.
Cameron Green channels his inner Daryl Mitchell
In last year’s T20 World Cup, New Zealand turned heads to great success by promoting perennial middle order allrounder Daryl Mitchell to open the batting. Mitchell returned the favour by carrying the Kiwis to victory in the semifinals against England. Australia appeared to be inspired by that left field move by promoting hot prospect Cameron Green to do the same and he passed with flying colours, racing to 61 off 30 before the aforementioned Axar stopped him in his tracks.
Debutant David stutters but Wade repeats Dubai heroics
By far, the most hype on either side before the series opener was around newcomer Tim David, who had previously established himself for Singapore and franchise leagues around the world. Today, he had a debut to forget as India was well prepared to nullify his strengths. But Australia’s Dubai hero Matthew Wade had a point to prove following a middling campaign with Gujarat Titans in the IPL. Wade did to Harshal Patel and Bhuvaneshwar Kumar what he did to Shaheen Shah Afridi last year, singlehandedly take the game away when it looked like India’s by some distance.
Brief scores: Australia 211-6 beat India 208-6 by four wickets.