Adelaide: Virat Kohli slammed an unbeaten 90 before a collective effort by the Indian bowlers gave the visitors a resounding start in the Twenty20 cricket series against Australia with a 37-run victory in the first match here on Tuesday.
The in-form Kohli faced 55 balls in his whirlwind knock, which was laced by nine fours and two sixes, to give India a respectable total of 188 for three after being put into bat at the Adelaide Oval.
The Indians then bundled the hosts for 151 in 19.3 overs to record only their second win on the tour so far, with two more T20 matches in Melbourne (January 29) and Sydney (January 31) remaining. The win was certainly an ideal Republic Day gift for the Indian fans.
Chasing 189, Australia got off to a rollicking start with Aaron Finch (44 runs, 33 balls, 4 fours, 2 sixes) and David Warner (17) plundering runs off Ashish Nehra (1-30) and Ravichandran Ashwin’s (2-28) first over.
The score read 34 for no loss at the end of three overs, when Jasprit Bumrah (3-23) was brought into the attack. He bowled well to apply brakes, giving away only 3 runs in his first over, and then removing Warner in the sixth over, caught at mid-on.
The Australian 50-mark came up later in that over, as Steve Smith (21) joined Finch in the middle and the duo added 42 runs for the 2nd wicket, looking in control. They were harsh on debutant Hardik Pandya (2-37) who was taken for 19 runs in his first over in international cricket, inclusive of five wides.
But Ravindra Jadeja (2-21) bowled superbly in the middle overs, dismissing Smith in the ninth over, caught at mid-on.
The initiative was wrested back to India when Ashwin returned to trap Finch LBW in the 10th over, and when Jadeja did the same to Travis Head (2) in the next over, the Men in Blue were well on top as Australia had lost three wickets for four runs, crossing the 100-mark in the 12th over.
The run-rate was getting ahead of the hosts at that stage, and while Shane Watson (12) hit a couple lusty blows to calm the dressing room, they needed a few more of those and he was dismissed going for a big one against Ashwin, caught by Nehra at short fine leg.
It was left to Chris Lynn (17) to come up with some big hits like he did in the Big Bash League, but Dhoni threw the ball to Pandya for one more go. And the youngster delivered this time around, snapping up both Lynn and Matthew Wade (5) in two balls, across the 15th and 17th overs respectively, to revive his night.
Earlier, Kohli notched up his highest score in this format and put on 134 runs for the third wicket with Suresh Raina (41 runs, 34 balls, 3 fours, 1 six).
Rohit (31 runs, 20 balls, 4 fours, 1 six) set the ball rolling with a four and a six in the first over bowled by Shaun Tait (0-45). Thanks to him, the run-rate shot up easily, with ten-per-over coming easily in the first four overs even as Shikhar Dhawan (5) was out early.
Cameron Boyce dropped Rohit in the fourth over, but it didn’t cost Australia too much. Shane Watson (2-24) struck in the very next over as Rohit departed after an explosive start, caught at mid on. It became a double blow for India as Dhawan played an ugly shot four balls later, off a bouncer, only to be caught behind.
Kohli and Raina came together then, and went about rebuilding the Indian innings. They kept up the tempo initially, taking advantage of the power play overs as the 50-mark came up in the sixth over.
Indeed for the first nine overs, the Men in Blue were scoring at over eight-per-over, but Watson and Boyce (0-23) had managed to pull things back a bit, despite Kohli hitting out against the leg-spinner.
Their 50-partnership came up in the 12th over, off 39 balls, while Kohli reached his 10th T20I half-century off only 32 balls in the 14th over. There was an urgent need to up the scoring thereafter, but early on Raina looked rusty in his shot making even as his partner had no difficulty in finding the gaps.
India had reached the 100-mark in the 13th over and Kohli brought out the big guns thereafter, attacking the bowlers and picking boundaries at ease, thus crossing his highest individual score in T20I cricket.
The 150-mark came up in the 18th over as there was an urgency outlined by both the batsmen. The score read 160/2 at the end of the 18th over. Raina was finally bowled in the final over by James Faulkner (1-43). Dhoni (11 not out) marched to the crease then, and smacked a six and a four straight away, even as 28 runs came off the final two overs.
India: 188 for 3 in 20 overs (Virat Kohli 90 not out, Suresh Raina 41; Shane Watson 2/21).
Australia: 151 all out in 19.3 overs (Aaron Finch 44, Steven Smith 21; Jaspreet Bumrah 3/23, Ravichandran Ashwin 2/28, Ravindra Jadeja 2/21).