India recovered from a batting collapse to beat Australia by 11 runs in the 1st T20I of a 3-match series in Canberra on Friday. Chasing 162, Australia had got off to a good start but Yuzvendra Chahal, who substituted Ravindra Jadeja and T Natarajan, ensured India started the T20I series with a victory.

After being put in, India were poor with the bat and it was only thanks to a solid 51 by KL Rahul at the top and a fiery, unbeaten 43 from Ravindra Jadeja lower down the order that the team managed a respectable 161 for 6 off 20 overs. But there was a bit of a controversy when India subbed Ravindra Jadeja who had a hamstring problem in the 19th over of the innings. However, Jadeja was also hit on the helmet while he was batting and India decided to replace him with Yuzvendra Chahal.

Like with the bat, India started poorly with the ball. Deepak Chahar bowled an expensive first over but he was unlucky in his second after Manish Pandey dropped Aaron Finch and Virat Kohli messed up a chance offered by D’Arcy Short. But Finch’s dropped catch did not prove to be expensive as Yuzvendra Chahal, the concussion snub, snared him in the very next over. But by then, Australia had been given a strong platform and it would have needed a special performance from India’s bowlers to turn the tide.

Ironically, it was Chahal who took it upon himself to give India a glimmer of hope. Australia coach Justin Langer was far from happy with the concussion sub and Chahal, who wasn’t even part of the first XI, snared the dangerous Steve Smith in his second over. With back-to-back wickets, India were suddenly back in with a slim chance.

At the half-way stage, Australia needed 88 off 10 overs with 8 wickets in hand. With Short and Glenn Maxwell in the middle, Australia were still the favorites. But T Natarajan was rewarded with his first T20I wicket after Virat Kohli made a good review against Maxwell in the 11th over.

With Australia’s three seasoned campaigners back in the hut, the onus was on D’Arcy Short and Moises Henriques to give Australia a 1-0 lead. The pair did look to steer the Aussies close but Short fell to T Natrajan as the asking rate climbed sharply. It was still an open game with 49 needed off the last 5 overs for Australia but given the lack of depth in their batting line-up, India would have fancied their chances.

Australia slipped into further trouble after Moises Henriques fell to Deepak Chahar in the 18th over. Surprisingly, Chahar did not even appeal only wicketkeeper KL Rahul made a loud appeal for LBW before India reviewed a not-out decision. In the very next over, T Natarajan cleaned up Mitchell Starc and Australia by then had started to hope.

Australia were left with plenty to do off the last over 27 needed with 3 wickets in hand and by then, it was clear India would storm to a well-deserved victory in front of energetic fans.

Earlier, India were asked to bat after Australia captain Aaron Finch won the toss. India decided to rest Jasprit Bumrah, the second highest wicket-taker in the Indian Premier League and gave T Natarajan his maiden T20I cap after his ODI debut this week.

However, Virat Kohli’s decision to go without wristspinners Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav raised eyebrows. Chahal was in fine form for Royal Challengers Bangalore in the 2020 IPL even though he struggled in the ODI series against Australia.

It was a scratchy start for India and when Shikhar Dhawan fell cheaply to Mitchell Starc, the onus was on 2020 IPL Orange Cap winner KL Rahul and India skipper Virat Kohli to lay a solid foundation for the visitors in Canberra.

But Australia exploited Virat Kohli’s tentative footwork against leg-spinners and Mitchell Swepson reaped the rewards with his wicket in the 7th over.

Meanwhile, KL Rahul looked good at the other end and with Sanju Samson put the Indian innings back on track.

Both men showed the aptitude to hit the big shots and it seemed like India were headed towards a competitive total in the vicinity of 180. But Sanju Samson went hit a Moises Henriques delivery straight to Mitchell Swepson at cover.

Manish Pandey was sent in ahead of the in-form Hardik Pandya and that proved to be a bad call. India had to build on the brief partnership between KL Rahul and Sanju Samson – instead, Manish Pandey who did not play in any of the 3 ODIs, could manage only 2 off 8 balls before becoming Adam Zampa’s wicket.

Hardik Pandya was on fire in the ODI series but a slow start on Friday meant more pressure for KL Rahul and he perished to Henriques as India continued to lose momentum and the prospects of a strong total.

KL Rahul’s exit brought together Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja who had helped India snatch victory from the jaws of defeat in the third and final ODI against Australia. But the pair was unable to replicate its heroics from earlier this week and Pandya became Henriques’s 3rd wicket.

India had slipped from 86 for 3 in the 12th over to 114 for 6 in the 17th over and there was little hope of recovery unless Jadeja and Washington Sundar produced something spectacular in the remaining overs.

India heaved a sigh of relief once Jadeja hit Josh Hazlewood for a 6 and two 4s in the penultimate over of the innings after he had been attended to by the physio after he went down grabbing his hamstring.

Ravindra Jadeja then hit Mitchell Starc for two boundaries as India finished with 161 for 7 off 20 overs even after he had been hit on the helmet the reason India cited to make the concussion sub. The teams had so far been rather friendly so far in the series but this controversy could bring in some spice to the remainder of India’s tour down under.