Bumrah, Kuldeep set up India's 1-0 T20I series lead



India’s bowlers set up a victory once again © AFP

The jury is still out on whether the DLS method is viable for the shortest format of the game, but Australia suffered through another poor batting display that allowed India to draw first blood again – this time in the rain-truncated T20I series opener in Ranchi. Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli polished off the revised six-over target of 48 with 3 balls to spare after a Steve Smith-less Australian side succumbed to batting frailties that had become commonplace in the ODI series.

When David Warner took guard, after Virat Kohli put him in, the Australian captain had a reputation to protect. After all, he boasts of very good T20 numbers in this part of the world and particularly at Ranchi, where he holds the highest individual score (90 vs CSK in IPL 2014). But he was up against the man who was perhaps the first name he would put down on his Sunrisers Hyderabad team sheet- Bhuvneshwar Kumar. The fast bowler knew exactly how to cramp up his IPL captain with a leg stump line, before offering width on two successive balls that were duly sent away to the fence. Bhuvneshwar, the T20 bowler, however, had the wares to make a strong comeback from an early setback. He bowled similar length to the one that was cut away behind point, but took away the width this time. Warner pushed his luck and ended up playing the ball onto his stumps.

In the absence of Smith, Glenn Maxwell had big shoes to fill at No. 3. He seemed like fish out of water against the fast bowling duo – Bhuvneshwar and Jasprit Bumrah, before Hardik Pandya took some pressure off him in the last over of the powerplay by spraying balls down the leg side. But, Virat Kohli played on the big-hitter’s mind by throwing the ball to Yuzvendra Chahal right after the fielding rules were relaxed.

It took Chahal just three balls to end Maxwell’s stay – dismissing him for the fourth time on this tour. Once again Chahal was left with a sheepish grin as Maxwell whacked a poor long hop – that could’ve been sent into the top-most row behind the square leg fence – straight to Bumrah at mid-wicket.

Aaron Finch was the last bit of adhesive that held the Australian innings together. He didn’t spare Pandya’s inconsistent lengths and saw it fit to sweep his way out against Chahal’s leg breaks. The trouble for him came against Kuldeep Yadav, who got the ball to turn a bit more than his spin twin.

Kuldeep bowled four balls in all to the Aussie opener – three of them were in good length area which Finch could comfortably sweep, while the fourth was a well-disguised full one that dipped on Finch and left him in two minds before sneaking past to crash onto the stumps. Finch exited the stage for a 30-ball 42 in the 10th over, after which Australia’s essay only went downhill.

Australia’s middle-order trio of Travis Head, Moises Henriques and Daniel Christian contributed a sum total of 26 runs – each departing with a single-digit score to their names. Wicketkeeper-batsman Tim Paine was fortunate to get past the first over he faced in the middle, offering as many as three chances and surviving each. Bumrah was not as benevolent as a couple of his teammates, as he disturbed Paine’s stumps in the 18th over. With that scalp, the pacer moved to second (behind Ashwin and ahead of Nehra) on India’s T20I bowling charts with 35 wickets to his name.

With rain putting the breaks on the game, Australia’s innings ended on 118 for 8 in 18.4 overs and left them with the task of defending 48 in 6 overs. Nathan Coulter-Nile cleaned up Rohit Sharma in the second over and gave the visitors faint hopes of pulling off something special, but Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan thwarted those plans by smartly scoring at least one boundary in each over leading up to the last. On the third ball of Christian’s over, Kohli completed India’s seventh successive T20I victory over Australia with an uppish drive over his opposite number at mid-off.

Brief Scores: Australia 118/8 in 18.4 overs (Aaron Finch 42; Kuldeep Yadav 2-16, Jasprit Bumrah 2-17) lost to India 49/1 in 5.3 overs (Virat Kohli 22*, Shikhar Dhawan 15*) by 9 wickets (DLS method)

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