It was yet another sorry tale for India Down Under as they crashed to their 5th consecutive defeat in Australia this summer. This time in different frontier, losing the first of two T20 games to be played. Even after playing in excess of one month in Australian conditions now, India still haven’t got a win in their bag. With just David Warner playing in today’s T20 from the Australian test squad, India had their best chance on this tour to register their first win and build their confidence for the upcoming tri-angular ODI series featuring Australia and Sri Lanka. But as it turned out to be, this relatively inexperienced Australian side also proved too hot to handle for the in-crisis Indian team.
After winning the toss, Indian skipper MS Dhoni elected to field first, considering the overcast conditions and rain forecast. The England horror must have been well on his mind, where India’s competitive total was turned into a rather timid challenge thanks to the D/L method implied in the match. What was amazing to see is that despite rain forecast, India went in with two specialist spinners and a part timer in Ravindra Jadeja, with Irfan Pathan still waiting for his first chance on this tour.
After a cautious start, Australia got on to the aggressive mode with David Warner blasting Ashwin for a 6 of a switch hit and then following it up with a straight six down the ground. Australia was racing off to a blizzard start when Vinay Kumar got the priced wicket of Warner (25) as he scooped a full pitched delivery long way in the air only to be grabbed by Raina at covers. With inexperienced Mathew Wade and Travis Birt at the crease, India should have gone for the jugular but again missed the trick. After being allowed to settle down, Mathew Wade, in particular, made sure he gave the Australian selectors some food for thought as he made his way to a spectacular 72 of just 43 balls. With Brad Haddin out of form and Mathew Wade grabbing his opportunity with both hands, Aussie selectors would have some difficulty picking up the 11 members for ODI matches. Travis Birt was soon removed by Ashwin as he hit a low full toss straight to a diving Raina at covers. Walked in the T20 specialist David Hussey and he along with Wade made sure Australia had a respectable total on board. Wade was bowled on a flatter Raina delivery as he tried to cut it, not before hitting 3 huge sixes and placing Australia comfortable at 135/3. Hussey made sure India didn’t got back in end overs and he kept hitting the spinners out of the park. Australia finished at 171/4 in 20 overs, which was above the average total on this ground but well within the reach of India, taking into account their strong batting line up.
Indian chase began in the similar fashion, as it has all through this last month, losing Virender Sehwag in the very first over. It was a loose shot from Sehwag as he tried to flick a middle stump line bowl and got an outside edge which was well taken in the slips. Gambhir and Kohli then steadied the innings while they scored at brisk rate to keep India in the contest. With India 46/1 in 6 overs, the crowd certainly thought they had a match on hand. But as soon as the spinners were brought into attack by new Australian captain George Bailey, India lost the plot. Gambhir was caught in covers in the first over of David Hussey for 20, failing to get desired elevation. Kohli (22) was caught in the next over as he skied a Brad Hogg delivery to be caught at long on by Warner, giving the 40 year old comeback spinner his first wicket. Hussey and Hogg in particular were the game changers as they stifled the batsmen after the first 6 overs went India’s way. India never recovered from what happened in that period of play, and were always playing catchup, in vain.
Australia’s spinners beat India. That’s a rare sight, but that’s the way things panned out today. Rohit Sharma finally had his pads on in this tour, but all he could last was one delivery. Raina too stayed there for a while but lost his wicket as soon as he tried to break the shackles and score quick runs. Dhoni played quite a meaningless innings, at least in the context of this game, as he was pretty slow to move of his blocks. And by the time his hits started to connect, he was already batting with the lower order and India were almost out of the contest.
India should still be going positively to Melbourne as the pitch there would suite Indians more than the Sydney pitch did. With a comparatively inexperienced Australian side at the other end, I would still term it as India’s best chance to start their win count.
Brief Scores : Australia – 171/4 in 20 overs (Wade 72, Hussey 42; Raina 22/1)
India – 140/6 in 20 overs (Dhoni 48*, Kohli 22; Hussey 4/2)
Australia beat India by 31 runs to lead @ match KFC T20 series 1-0. Man of the Match : Mathew Wade.