Jhye Richardson and Pat Cummins managed 14 off the last over as Australia sneaked to a three-wicket victory in a low-scoring affair at Visakhapatnam.
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A tense and twitchy finale to this low-scoring match saw India squeeze home in this heavyweight battle and set up the series perfectly.
Neither side found much fluency with the bat as the bowlers took centre stage, a 50 apiece from India's KL Rahul (50) and Australia's Glenn Maxwell (56) the only significant contributors. Chasing India's lowly 126/7, the tourists look nailed on to win comfortably until Maxwell's departure, and when a collapse ensued following a valiant effort from Jasprit Bumrah (3/16) and co, the game was left hanging in the balance on the final delivery.
Cummins hit the winning runs with two required from the final ball, the drive back past Umesh Yadav allowing the pair to get back safely and secure the victory.
Australia edge India in a Vizag thriller!— ICC (@ICC) February 24, 2019
India fight back strong after being kept to 126/7, but Australia manage to reach the line on the final ball for a 3-wicket win!#INDvAUS scorecard ➡️ https://t.co/QNPPeLJl3x pic.twitter.com/3uxL04sP3C
The hosts were put into bat, and despite losing Rohit Sharma early on to Jason Behrendorff (1/16), India made a swift start to their innings, Rahul and Virat Kohli combining for 55 before India's skipper perished for 24, chipping one down the ground to long-off and gifting Adam Zampa (1/22) his solitary scalp.
From there, wickets fell frequently and 17 became the next-highest partnership as the Aussie bowlers began to hone their lines. Rishabh Pant ran himself out for 3 before Nathan Coulter-Nile forced Rahul to toe-end one to mid-off, the 26-year old leaving the field after notching a stylish, 36-ball 50.
Coulter-Nile (3/26) rounded off a wonderful spell with the subsequent scalps of Dinesh Karthik (1) and Krunal Pandya (1), and MS Dhoni could not pick up the pace as he was left stranded with the tail. He prevailed unbeaten on 29 from 37, putting on 17 with No.11 Yuzvendra Chahal (0*), but 126/7 never looked enough, as economical spells from Cummins (1/19) and D'arcy Short (1/10) had pinned India back.
Australia's reply began dreadfully when two wickets fell in two balls leaving them 5/2, Marcus Stoinis (1) being run out by Yadav before Aaron Finch received a first-baller, the imperious Bumrah getting one to nip in a touch and pin the Aussie skipper lbw. Short and Maxwell then negotiated the India attack with relative ease, accumulating smartly and on course with the required run-rate, and the match looked to be all-but in the bag.
That was until Maxwell spooned one skyward and was caught as Chahal (1/28) got one to grip, and Short fell two overs later for a run-a-ball 37, becoming Australia's second run-out victim after an almighty mix-up with debutant Peter Handscomb in the middle. Krunal (1/17) then bowled Ashton Turner for a duck as the middle-order batter searched fruitlessly for the extravagant sweep, and 89/2 had fast become 102/5.
Runs dried up majorly following Turner's departure, with Handscomb (13) and Coulter-Nile (4) scratching around for singles, and India looked to have seized the momentum when Bumrah dislodged them both in the penultimate over, leaving 14 needed from the last six balls.
Yadav could not provide the goods though, as either side of a couple of singles and a two, Richardson flayed away for four behind square on the off-side and Cummins smashed one through the covers for another boundary to leave the hosts within touching distance of victory. Cummins pushed one back past Yadav and ran well to get two off the last delivery, securing a tense but rewarding three-wicket victory for his side.
India will look to bounce back in the second T20I which takes place on Wednesday, 27 February in Bangalore.
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