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Kohli, bowlers hand India 37-run win

India's spin bowlers gave its captain solid control after a strong score was put on the board

Kohli, bowlers hand India 37-run win
 - Cricket News
There is something about the Adelaide Oval that brings the absolute best out of Virat Kohli. A little over a year ago when he captained India in a Test match for the first time, he hit centuries in both innings. When India opened its World Cup campaign against Pakistan, he hit another century. On Tuesday (January 26), the only reason he didn’t make it a trifecta of centuries in three formats was because it was a Twenty20 International and there wasn’t enough time.

Kohli ended up with 90 not out off just 55 balls to power India to a commanding 188 for 3 in the first T20I against Australia. The trend of the ODI series that had just gone by had been for the chasing team to get the better of the one batting first – with the exception of India’s botched innings in Canberra that should have resulted in victory. In this match however, the stiff target and the web spun by India’s spin duo of R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja ensured that the result was reversed, India running away victors by 37 runs to open up a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.

Jasprit Bumrah, making his T20I debut three days after his ODI one, was impressive again, returning 3 for 23, while Ashwin (2 for 28) and Jadeja (2 for 21) provided the pin-point control and wickets that India had needed in the final overs to derail Australia’s chase for 151 all out in 19.3 overs.

Aaron Finch had won the toss and stuck India in, and almost immediately Rohit Sharma got the better of the returning Shaun Tait to get India off to a good start. The ‘Wild Thing’ hadn’t lost any pace, but his four overs went for 45 runs, and it was more like the wild fling, with Tait’s radar not quite there. He didn’t have luck going his way either, with Rohit hitting a six off the fourth ball of the match that Kane Richardson at fine-leg should have caught.

Rohit rode his luck, including Cameron Boyce, the legspinner, dropping a sitter in the short third-man region, but the arrival of Shane Watson, the other returning veteran, slowed India’s charge. Watson got Rohit first ball, driving straight to mid off, and then added Shikhar Dhawan for good measure in a first over that fetched two wickets for one run and left India 41 for 2 in five overs.

Suresh Raina, who needed to make a strong point after being dropped from the ODI side, came in at No.4 but couldn’t really get going. However, he did the smart thing in realising that Kohli was hitting the ball as if in a dream, and turned the strike over. As for the Indian vice-captain, he was in the zone. When he got the teeniest bit of width, he crashed the ball through the offside. When the bowlers erred in length, he was quick on transfer balance and hit with authority. When they strayed down leg, he simply picked off runs with bread-and-butter shots.

Watson had been Australia’s best bowler, and nothing illustrated Kohli’s mastery more than two successive fours in the allrounder’s final over – one bisecting fielders between extra-cover and long-off and the other flicked to midwicket.

Raina fell in the final over after a stand of 134 in 87 balls of which he had contributed only 41 off 34, but MS Dhoni showed that was still enough time for him to make a statement, a walloped six first ball dropping collective jaws followed by a fierce cut that bounced just inside the ropes.

Australia’s openers were quick off the blocks, both Finch and David Warner finding the fence regularly. But Bumrah deceived Warner with his pace, and had the opener hitting straight to Kohli at mid-on. When Steven Smith and Finch batted, it was Australia’s best phase with the runs coming in a clatter as 42 were added in just 23 balls, but Jadeja fooled Smith into hitting a leading edge to Kohli and Australia never recovered from that.

From 89 for 1 in the ninth over, they slid to 110 for 5 in the 14th, with the cream of the top order gone, and from there on, it was India all the way. The collapse was engineered by Jadeja and assisted by Ashwin, the duo accounting for Travis Head, Finch and Watson besides Smith.

India had handed a debut to Hardik Pandya too, and the Baroda allrounder had a nervous first over punctuated by four wides that went for 19 runs, but he had some reward when he came back and got two wickets – Chris Lynn caught superbly by Yuvraj Singh at cover who collected a hard-hit ball nonchalantly, and later Matthew Wade out slogging with the asking rate climbing.

Fittingly, it was Bumrah who finished things off in the final over, giving India a much better start than they had in the ODI series.

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