Jason Behrendorff took 4 for 21 © AFP
Jason Behrendorff took 4 for 21 © AFP

Barsapara Cricket Stadium could not have witnessed a better script in its first T20I. The ebb and flow of the game came to the fore in the very first over. A wide full-toss to start the match with and Rohit Sharma dispatched it past backward-point. The newcomer Jason Behrendorff got neither direction nor length right. Rohit then played the next ball with soft hands. He had to defend the in-dipper. Behrendorff followed it with a similar delivery, something Rohit had anticipated: he drove it down the ground.

Behrendorff knew Rohit’s weakness. He was trying it angle it in. He did not retreat despite going for two fours. It is a game for the audacious, and the left-hander trapped Rohit in front, in his fourth attempt this evening.

In came Virat Kohli, bringing the Guwahati crowd back on its feet.

Another in-swinger, and Kohli, with a high elbow, dabbed it into the ground. He was right behind the delivery. Behrendorff knew that he cannot push it full and on Kohli’s pads. The result is often a boundary when that happens, but luck was on Australia’s side. Kohli got an inside edge which ricocheted off his pads and to the bowler’s hands. It was his first duck in the format.

The first over read: 4 0 4 W 0 W (an internet error and an expression of surprised admiration?). Never mind.

With the Indian top three scoring bulk of the runs when the ball is new, the middle-order does not get enough to exploit. Today was the chance for Manish Pandey to make amends and score the most. Nothing like that happened. Shikhar Dhawan and Pandey were back in the pavilion. India lost 4 wickets in 4.3 overs, courtesy Behrendorff. He ended with figures of 4 for 21.

Kedar Jadhav, amidst the cascading, was in a different mood. Unaffected by the brief scare, he played his shots. There was a crisply-timed pull over deep-wicket, followed by a mighty scythe. On the other hand, MS Dhoni tired the Australian fielders with quick ones and twos, moving like a gush of wind.

The wrecked ship was, if not smoothly, sailing ashore. Dhoni and Jadhav were going smoothly, until Adam Zampa set his former Rising Pune Supergiant teammate with his leg-breaks. With his makeover in technique, Dhoni was trying to step out and get under the ball. If he does so, a boundary is certain. If he does not, a punch down the ground is always a safe bet. However, Zampa was a step ahead of the wily Dhoni. He invited Dhoni to go for a big one, and when the Dhoni did what Zampa forced him to, he found himself stumped. The ship now was half sabotaged in 9.5 overs.

With Dhoni gone Jadhav sensed urgency, which eventually brought his downfall. He was in no position of tackle Zampa’s wrong ‘un. In the next over, Nathan Coulter-Nile made Bhuvneshwar Kumar his first victim. The onus entirely rested on the ever-improving Hardik Pandya.

Pandya dished out a different approach. With his team in the woods, he decided to play out all 20 overs than going bonkers and losing his wicket. He, however, used the long handle to devastating effect during the death overs, adding 25 vitals runs to the scoreboard until he holed out to long-off.

In other news, Jasprit Bumrah scored his maiden runs in his 27th T20I. It came off a thick outside edge, going for a four. To add to the fun, Yuzvendra Chahal batted for the first time in T20Is. The unlikely star, however, was Kuldeep Yadav. He scored 16 runs, battling for 7.2 overs.

Brief scores:

India 118 all-out in 20 overs (Kedar Jadhav 27; Jason Behrendorff 4 for 21, Adam Zampa 2 for 19) vs Australia

Full scorecard