Shoddy India slip to four-run defeat

Australia's Glenn Maxwell in an aggressive mood during his 46 in the first T20 International on Wednesday. AFP

A sloppy India failed to get an ideal start to the Australia tour, losing the rain-hit opening T20 International by four runs at the Gabba here on Wednesday.

India first faltered in the field, letting Australia score 158 for four after rain shortened the contest to 17 overs a side. Glenn Maxwell was the star batsman for Australia, hammering 46 runs off 24 balls.

The 45-minute rain stoppage meant India were set a revised target of 174 runs in 17 overs.

Opener Shikhar Dhawan smashed a superb 76 off 42 balls in the chase before Dinesh Karthik came up with a pulsating 30 off 13 balls towards the end but India still finished agonisingly short on 169 for seven.

It was a morale-boosting win for Australia, who have endured a dismal run of late in limited overs cricket.

The second match of the three-match series will be played in Melbourne on Friday.

Dhawan got India off to a quick start, putting on 35 off 25 balls for the opening stand with Rohit Sharma (7).

The latter was caught at long-on off Jason Behrendorff (1-43) in a bid to accelerate his strike-rate. In keeping with the strategy used during the T20I series in England, KL Rahul (13) came out to bat at number three.

Dhawan and Rahul put on 46 runs for the second wicket, but it was mostly down to the left-hander’s belligerence. He hit ten fours and two sixes and reached his ninth T20I half-century off only 28 balls.

Rahul though was patchy and struggled for timing. He was stumped off Adam Zampa (2-22) in the ninth over, with the leg-spinner also accounting for skipper Virat Kohli (4) who never really got going coming down at number four.

The asking rate was climbing up and it took a toll on Dhawan, who finally holed out off Stanlake, leaving Rishabh Pant (20 off 15 balls) and Karthik with a mountain to climb.

They nearly achieved the impossible, putting on 51 off a mere 24 balls, toying around with the Australian bowling. But Pant played another loose stroke, throwing his wicket away.

It left Karthik to finish off things, but he found the going tough without enough support from the other end. With 13 needed off 6 balls, Krunal Pandya (2) and Karthik holed out off consecutive deliveries off Marcus Stoinis (2-27).

Earlier, Maxwell hit four sixes in a whirlwind knock before the rain came after Chris Lynn scored 37 runs off 20 balls to help Australia recover from a slow start.

India had won the toss and opted to bowl on a green wicket. Kuldeep Yadav was picked ahead of Yuzvendra Chahal as expected, while the hosts also included a spinner in Adam Zampa and left out medium pacer Coulter-Nile.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar (0-15) and Jasprit Bumrah (1-21) got India off to a good start but Aaron Finch (27) pulled things back a bit. Khaleel Ahmed (1-42) got the initial breakthrough as D’Arcy Short (7) was caught at long on. The left-arm pacer proved expensive thereafter.

Kuldeep picked 2-24 in his four-over spell. He dismissed Finch and then sent back Lynn as well, thus reducing Australia to 75-3 in the 11th over.

India were rather poor in the field. Skipper Kohli had dropped Finch in the fourth over, a straight chance spilled at cover, and then misfielded later on as well.

Ahmed too dropped Stoinis (33 not out off 19 balls) late in the Australian innings, while Maxwell should have been run-out.

Finch took advantage of the reprieve and put on 40 runs off 26 balls with Lynn for the second wicket.

But it was Maxwell who stole the show with his belligerent hitting as Australia crossed 150 in the 16th over. He put on 78 runs off 37 balls with Stoinis as Indian bowlers proved expensive even before the death overs began.

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Shoddy India slip to four-run defeat

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