Glenn Maxwell’s 43 and Adam Zampa’s 2/22 bested Shikhar Dhawan’s 76 to give Australia a four-run victory in the first Twenty20 International against India at The Gabba in Brisbane.
With India needing 13 runs off the last over with six wickets in hand, after Virat Kohli had won the toss earlier in the day and put Australia in, Marcus Stoinis picked up two wickets and gave away just eight runs to hand Australia a nervy win in a last-over thriller.
Set a challenging total of 174 from 17 overs after a prolonged rain interruption reduced the match to 17 overs per side, India got off to a good start with Shikhar Dhawan smashing Australia’s new-ball bowlers, Billy Stanlake and Jason Behrendorff, all over the ground.
But Behrendorff brought Australia back when Rohit Sharma mistimed one for Aaron Finch to settle under as India finished the five-over Powerplay at 41/1.
Spin was introduced for the first time in the seventh, and KL Rahul, who walked in at No.3, welcomed Adam Zampa by cutting the leg spinner through point.
Dhawan continued on his merry way, flicking Behrendorff for a six and a four to bring up his 50 off just 28 balls.
But Zampa brought Australia back once again by ripping one past Rahul’s outside edge and getting the batsman stumped by Alex Carey for 13. One brought two, as Kohli (4) mistimed his wild hoick across the line against Zampa and lobbed a catch to short third man to leave India in trouble at 94/3, needing 13 runs per over at the end of the 11th.
With the pressure of chase mounting, Dhawan pulled Stanlake through square leg for six to break the shackles but was dismissed the very next ball, trying to guide a ball over third man but finding Behrendorff in the deep.
India needed 65 runs off the last five overs which became 60 off the last four as Zampa bowed out with an impressive 2/22, but Rishabh Pant and Dinesh Karthik hit a six each in the 14th over, bowled by Tye, that also had two wides to collect 25 runs to swing the game once again.
Karthik hit three fours in the next two overs, off Stoinis and Tye, to bring up the 50-run fifth-wicket partnership off just 22 balls. But Tye struck in his last over, the innings’ 16th, dismissing Pant for 20 to leave India 13 to get off the last over, which the visitors fell short of.
Earlier, Australia got off to a slow start, scoring five runs in the first two overs before a short ball by Bhuvneshwar Kumar was pulled for four by D’Arcy Short to get going.
Finch, who had single-digit score in his last five T20I outings was given a big reprieve by Kohli in the fourth over, when a ball hit straight to the Indian captain, stationed at short cover, burst through his hands.
Finch made use of the spate of luck and went on to hit Bumrah for two boundaries in the same over and one more off Kumar in the sixth to take Australia to 38 runs at the end of the Powerplay.
But that was not before Khaleel Ahmed, playing his first international match in Australia, got a wicket off his very first ball, when Short aimed to hit the fast bowler down the ground but only managed to hit it high in the air for Kuldeep Yadav to settle under.
Chris Lynn, who walked in at No.3, got going straight away and cut short Ahmed’s good start by smashing him for three sixes – two over mid-wicket and one over long-on – to give Australia the much-needed momentum as 21 runs came of the eighth over.
Finch tried to follow Lynn’s footsteps and came down the wicket to Yadav but failed to read a wrong’un and outside-edged it to Ahmed at short third. But Lynn was undeterred, hitting Krunal Pandya for another six – his fourth – and racing away to 37 off just 19 balls.
Yadav came to India’s rescue yet again as Lynn, failing to read another one of the bowler’s wrong’uns, hit it straight back to Yadav to leave Australia at 75/3 just after the 10th over.
Stoinis hit Ahmed for two boundaries, though mid-wicket and straight down the ground, in the 13th over to bring up Australia’s 100.
If Stoinis’ fours were warm-ups, Maxwell’s all-out attack on Pandya, whom he hit for three consecutive sixes in the 14th over, marked the beginning of Australia’s set-up for the death.
This attack forced Kohli to bowl out Yadav in the 16th over itself and the batsmen played the spinner out only to smash Pandya for two more sixes, as the only finger spinner in the side had a rough day, going for 55 runs in his four overs.
Bumrah was brought back thereafter and created a chance first-up, when an outside edge off Stoinis’ bat flew to Ahmed at third man, who dropped what looked like a simple catch.
Rain intervened at that juncture in the 17th over but it was not before Australia had brought up their 150 and were 153/3 in 16.1 overs with Maxwell unbeaten on 46 and Stoinis giving him company.
When play resumed after a 40-minute break, Australia had only five balls remaining and Maxwell, trying to hoick one of them towards square leg, was caught by Kumar. He made 46 off 24. Australia added five runs to their total and finished on 158/4.