Justin Langer clashed with match referee David Boon before a controversial concussion substitution allowed Yuzvendra Chahal to spin India to victory in the opening Twenty20 international.
In a dramatic match at Canberra’s Manuka Oval, Australia fell 11 runs short of India’s 161-7 – with the loss added to by a leg injury suffered by captain Aaron Finch. Australia’s chase stumbled after a 56-run opening stand between Finch and D’Arcy Short, with Chahal taking 3-25 to be named man of the match.
After starting the game on the bench, Chahal was brought in to the match as a concussion replacement for Ravindra Jadeja at the change of innings. Jadeja top edged a Mitchell Starc bouncer into his helmet while batting in the final over of India’s innings, but did not receive an on-field assessment.
Under the ICC’s rules, a doctor does not have to come on to the field immediately but would have had to at the end of the over had the innings not concluded. Complicating the matter was that Jadeja had suffered an apparent hamstring injury in the previous over, and was clearly struggling to run during his unbeaten 44 from 23 balls.
Langer could be seen in a heated discussion with Boon in the innings break, as Jadeja was replaced by Chahal. There was no confirmation from the Australian camp what the discussion was about, but Langer sat stony faced for the majority of the run chase.
Chahal then claimed the key first two wickets of Finch and Steve Smith, before also removing Matt Wade late to open up Australia’s lower order. The legspinner had Finch caught on the long-on boundary to a great diving catch, while Smith and Wade both fell on the sweep.
Finch had earlier looked dangerous for Australia, flying to 35 off 26 balls and hitting one big six off his pads off Mohammed Shami. But his leg remained a concern throughout. He required attention during the innings, after he was hurt going down to field a ball at mid-off early in the game.
Australia have already rested Pat Cummins from the series, while Alex Carey was not selected on Friday but could return to open if Finch is ruled out. Otherwise, Wade was vice-captain on Friday night while Smith could loom as an option alongside Josh Hazlewood, Glenn Maxwell or Moises Henriques.
Earlier, Henriques produced the best bowling of his international career, claiming 3-22 on a wicket that suited him perfectly. His scalps included KL Rahul for 52 and Samson on 23, both caught in the deep on balls that held up slightly. He also looked the most likely to get Australia home with the bat, hitting 30 from 20 balls before being given out lbw in a dismissal that sealed the hosts’ fate.
Mitchell Starc had the best night of his summer with 2-34, after remaining tight early and bowling Shikhar Dhawan with one that swung away. Mitch Swepson capped an eventful 24 hours with the wicket of Virat Kohli, after only being called into the squad for Ashton Agar (calf) on Thursday night.