Australia 211 for 6 (Green 61, Wade 45*, Axar 3-17) beat India 208 for 6 (Hardik 71*, Rahul 55, Ellis 3-30) by four wickets
Cameron Green blitzed a 26-ball half-century in his first innings as an opener in professional cricket and Matthew Wade provided the finishing kick as Australia hunted down 209 on a flat pitch in Mohali to go 1-0 up in the three-match series.
Green unleashed some Mitchell Marsh-style slog-sweeps during his 30-ball 61 to lay the platform for Australia’s tall chase. Axar Patel then applied the brakes on Australia with figures of 3 for 17 in his four overs – he was the only bowler to go at under seven an over on the day – but Wade accelerated in the end overs to ice the chase, with four balls and four wickets to spare.
It was Australia’s second-highest successful chase in T20I cricket. They made Jasprit Bumrah-less India pay for their lax fielding – they dropped at least three chances – and death bowling, as Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Harshal Patel ended with combined figures of 8-0-101-0
India stay true to their attacking approach
Although both Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli fell early, India kept attacking through KL Rahul, Suryakumar Yadav and Hardik Pandya. Rahul took on the pace of Josh Hazlewood and Green while Suryakumar picked off 22 runs off nine balls from legspinner Adam Zampa.
Rahul went on to notch up a half-century off 32 balls in the 11th over, but in the next, Hazlewood returned to dismiss him. Suryakumar unfurled some delightful pick-up shots and punches before Green found extra bounce and cut his innings short at 46 off 25 balls.
The placid track, a lighting-quick outfield and incredible ball-striking formed the ingredients of a Hardik special. He smashed an unbeaten 71 off 30 balls to propel India beyond 200.
He set to work with a clubbed six over midwicket off Green in the 14th over and proceeded to even squeeze yorkers – or near yorkers – away for fours. That he often flitted around the crease also threw bowlers off their lines and lengths. He reached his own fifty off 25 balls at the end of the 19th over and with only No.8 Harshal for company, he farmed the strike in the last and closed out the innings with 6,6,6.
Aaron Finch gambled with Green for the final over and the allrounder ended up conceding 21. Nathan Ellis, fresh off a stint with London Sprit in the Hundred, was more impressive with his pace and length variations, returning 3 for 30 in his four overs, including the key wickets of Kohli and Dinesh Karthik.
Green shows his range with the bat
Green might not have even played had Marsh or Marcus Stoinis been fit, but he seized his opportunity, giving Australia the blistering start they needed. He sent his first four balls – all from Umesh Yadav – for fours, with the third one demonstrating his firepower. Umesh took pace off and bowled a slower legcutter, but Green generated his own pace and flat-batted it back so hard that it burst through the hands of the bowler and sped into the straight boundary. Green was similarly strong against spin as well, taking Yuzvendra Chahal for 21 off a mere eight balls.
Green got another life, on 42, when Axar dropped him at deep midwicket. He added 19 to his tally before Axar got him with the ball.
Green’s dismissal triggered a wobble as Australia lost three wickets for 14 runs in 12 balls. When Josh Inglis was bowled by Axar, Australia still needed 64 off 35 balls. Wade alone hit 45 off 29 balls, to expose India’s death bowling, providing a throwback to his heroics against Pakistan in the T20 World Cup semi-finals last year in the UAE.
At one stage, it looked like Wade would finish the game off with Tim David after having handed David his first Australia cap. However, David fell trying to clear the boundary. Pat Cummins, though, got the job done with a four off the next ball.