Like governments, Jason Behrendorff
lured India with freebies up front before taxing them with four top-order wickets, a spell of play India never recovered from. Adam Zampa, who has not had the best of times on this trip, had his own back with two big middle-overs wickets to make sure Australia finally snapped their seven-match losing streak in T20Is against India. On a tacky pitch, with spin, seam and early swing on offer, India's batting seemed to fail to reassess what a good total was and fell 22 short of the 140-mark that might well have made for a tight chase.
The way the match started, though, you might have thought of a score much higher than 140. The first ball was a gentle full toss that Rohit Sharma caressed to the point boundary; the third was a long half-volley that was crashed straight of mid-off. Then came the swing against the angle from left-arm over. Like Mohammad Amir has done previously, Behrendorff trapped Rohit in front with the fourth ball. The late swing two balls later was slightly less perfect, but the inside edge lobbed off Virat Kohli's pad for a return catch. Behrendorff had knocked over two of the most destructive limited-overs batsmen in the world in his first over.
David Warner chose to bowl out Behrendorff, who has the best average and third-best strike rate in all T20 Powerplays since 2014. Behrendorff responded with the wickets of Manish Pandey and Shikhar Dhawan inside the Powerplay. With the threat of swing, Pandey fell poking at one, while Dhawan was victim of a sensational catch by Warner running back from mid-off. At 27 for 4, India were forced into rebuild mode, which has of late been the perfect situation for MS Dhoni.
Kedar Jadhav kept playing the odd shot while Dhoni seemed to settle into a typical innings in such situations. But against the legspin of Zampa, Dhoni began to play uncharacteristically. Usually, Dhoni prefers to make sure he bats through the overs when India are in strife, but here, he started to look for the big hits as early as the 10th over. A full toss was put away, a wide earned as Dhoni mocked a charge down the pitch, but in the same over he was stumped as the ball kicked away after falling short of his reach. A couple of overs later, Jadhav failed to pick a wrong'un when looking for a boundary over extra cover, making for an ungainly sight as he was bowled.
These wickets came at an unfortunate time for India because the dew made an appearance soon, but India didn't have the muscle to make use of it as there was hardly any acceleration in an innings with little deviation off the six-runs-an-over mark. The value of those extra 20 runs became apparent as soon as Australia began the chase. The ball continued to misbehave for the quicks: both Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah found seam movement and inconsistent bounce, which resulted in the early wickets of big guns Warner and Aaron Finch.
The asking rate, though, didn't climb, and Australia could afford to play a couple of calm overs. Australia chose a calm head to do so, promoting Moises Henriques to No. 3, a role Warner used him in at Sunrisers Hyderabad in the IPL too. Henriques and Travis Head took their time before opening up against the spinners, who struggled with the slippery ball. Kuldeep Yadav, in particular, dished up a few long hops, which provided Australia with enough momentum in a small chase.
Once the shots started coming off, the rest of the match was played in near silence as the capacity crowd on Barsapara Stadium's international debut agonised over India's defeat. A measure of the crowd's enthusiasm was seen in how even Dhoni failed to appeal for a faint nick lost to all barring Kohli in the loud stadium. The ground, though, had its task cut out with a lot of rain leading into the game, which might have resulted in the damp pitch.