Brisbane: Opener Shikhar Dhawan Wednesday said poor fielding cost India the game after the visitors lost by four runs via D/L method against Australia in the tour opening first Twenty20 International here at the Gabba.
India first faltered in the field, letting Australia score 158 for four after rain shortened the contest to 17-overs-a-side affair. 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.
Dhawan smashed a sublime 76 off 42 balls in the run 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 good game of cricket. It was a very close match and both the teams played really well. We got a lot of confidence from this game and will take it forward to the next game. Of course missed chances in the field had their own impacts. The dropped catch and missed run out opportunity but that is part and parcel of the game and we took it in our stride. We conceded a few extra runs (in the middle overs) but otherwise we played well,” said Dhawan after the loss.
India were poor in the field on Wednesday. Skipper Virat Kohli dropped his Australian counterpart Aaron Finch in the fourth over, a straight chance spilled at cover, and then miss fielded later on as well.
Khaleel Ahmed too dropped Marcus Stoinis (33 not out off 19 balls) late in the Australian innings, while Maxwell survived a run-out chance. Chasing the stiff target, Dhawan held the Indian innings together but got out at a crucial juncture.
Leg-spinner Adam Zampa (2/22) had earlier left the middle-order struggling, dismissing both KL Rahul and Kohli. “I knew we had to score some big runs in those overs and I was looking for that when I got out. He (Zampa) was influential in this game and his statistics were very good. We needed momentum and he took wickets that moment. From there the game got a bit more away from us when Rahul and Kohli were dismissed. He bowled well and with a lot of control,” said Dhawan.
“It was a game where we had to target all the bowlers. We didn’t have much time (in the match). We tried to target him (Zampa) but he got us out. Next game, we will have better plans against him and implement them in the middle,” he added.
Rishabh Pant and Karthik put on a rollicking stand of 51 runs from 24 balls thereafter and almost dragged India to victory. But the final turning point in the see-saw battle came when Pant was holed out off Andrew Tye.
Dhawan praised Pant, who was playing at this big ground for the first time. “Playing at such big grounds is about thinking and experience. We have played here before as well and that experience is quite handy. Rishabh is a youngster and batted here for the first time. So, for him it was vital experience and he came here first time, and played such a knock,” he said.
Australia have, thus, taken a 1-0 lead in the three-match series. The second game will be played in Melbourne on Friday. “Melbourne is like a homecoming. I live there, my family lives there, so I am looking forward to enjoying there. There is no extra motivation as such. I just want to go and enjoy myself,” Dhawan signed off.
For Australia, the latest lean run did not diminish the team’s belief that it remains a good side, said star of the first T20 Marcus Stoinis. Stoinis came up with an all-round performance in the four-run win over India, scoring 33 off 19 balls before defending 13 runs in the final over of the match.
“‘We have got good memories in the team. We dominated T20s last year. We were in good form not so long ago. Obviously, things have not gone our way but we know we are still a good side,” said Stoinis.
On the bowling front, he added: “In this particular game there were longer boundaries. Also wind the conditions were tricky. We were trying to bowl yorkers but they ended up being beamers. So it is something we are working on.”
“Aaron Finch spoke to me earlier in the day and said that me bowling in the final overs would be an option, especially if Adam Zampa plays. It was a pretty simple plan for us take pace off the ball and make them hit to the long boundary. I just committed to that one hundred per cent and it was a clear plan,” he said after the match.
Along with Glenn Maxwell, he put on 78 runs off 37 balls for the fifth wicket, hitting three fours and a six during his 19-ball 33 not out. That partnership helped provide momentum to Australia, who were able to defend a higher total of 174 thanks to DLS method.
Australian T20 captain Aaron Finch said: “Thought the boys played really well, especially in the middle overs with the bat.”
On a lighter note, Finch admitted that he never understands the equations of Duckworth-Lewis method. “Never been my strong point at school (maths).”
Man of the match Adam Zampa was delighted at having picked up the prized wicket of Virat Kohli. “Really good feeling. Virat being the player he is, just thought he was a big wicket at the time. Getting him out, I was really excited.”