Nathan Coulter-Nile picked up three wickets and Glenn Maxwell scored a brilliant fifty as Australia clinched the first T20I of the two-match series at Visakhapatnam, despite a Bumrah blitzkrieg in the nineteenth over of the Indian innings. 

Coulter-Nile ensured that India’s fine start with the bat after Aaron Finch opted to chase was overturned as he picked up three quick wickets in the middle order to help India post a modest 126 for 7 on the board. KL Rahul, who was making his way into the international team after he was suspended for his unsavory comments on TV last month, got India off to a flying start but some fine bowling from the opponents ensured that the home team was unable to get a huge target on the board. However, Team India made the target look formidable as they stalled the run-flow in the middle overs, with Bumrah leading the way. With 14 runs to chase in the last over, Umesh Yadav was unable to bowl stump-to-stump as the Aussie tail-enders stole a narrow win off the last ball.

Chasing 127 runs to win, Australia got off to an iffy start, as the move to push Marcus Stoinis to open the innings back-fired. Bumrah then dismissed Finch and India were in the driver’s seat with two wickets in two balls. The Aussie skipper took a review but a seaming delivery that kept a tad bit too low and beat the inside edge before hitting him on his front leg ensured that he was sent back without further ado.

The in-form Maxwell, however, got Australia back into the game as he found the gaps consistently and took quick singles even though Bumrah at the other end was making run-scoring tough. The all-rounder made light work of Umesh’s overs, hitting him to the boundary regularly. Yuzvendra Chahal was introduced into the attack but was unable to disturb Maxwell as Australia finished the first six overs at a comfortable 41 for 2.

However, once the slower bowlers were brought on, the runs were kept at a check. Though Mayank Markande on debut was a tad expensive, Krunal Pandya at the other end did what was expected off him. Maxwell was dismissed by Chahal as he looked to break the shackles and his dismissal triggered a collapse, similar to what India had experienced in their innings.

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D’Arcy Short was run-out soon after and a miscommunication with Peter Handscomb. Pandya got the wicket of Ashton Turner with a quicker delivery to end the game with figures of 1 for 17. Mayank Markande was entrusted with the 18th over, and it was a gamble that paid off as the tweaker gave away only 5 runs to leave 16 runs to get off 12.

Up next, Bumrah ensured that things were looking up for India as he picked up two wickets in two balls to give hopes of a memorable win for Team India. He got Handscomb with a short ball and then bowled a fine yorker to Coulter-Nile to leave Umesh with 14 runs to defend in the twentieth.

However, Australia’s tail-enders played maturely and held their nerves to clinch a win that had looked improbable by the end.

Earlier, the Indian batting unit showed off their reliance on the top order again as Rahul hit a fine fifty to allow India to get to a comfortable start. Replacing Shikhar Dhawan at the top, the wicket-keeper provided India the impetus by playing dominantly even though Rohit Sharma had been dismissed cheaply. He staged 55 runs for the second wicket with Virat Kohli, who was also making a comeback, but just when it seemed that India would get to at least 150, the downfall began.

After Kohli was sent back, Rishabh Pant was run out by a brilliant piece of fielding by Jason Behrendorff. Coulter-Nile then strike twice in the 13th over – sending back Rahul and Dinesh Karthik – to leave Dhoni in charge of taking India over the line.

However, with his recent woes in the format, it was asking a little too much from Dhoni. He refused singles to shield the tail-enders but was unable to hit the balls out of the park when he was on strike. In the end, the singles he refused and India’s harakiri with the bat, along with Umesh’s ability to bowl accurately cost India dear.

Brief scores: India 126/7 on 20 overs (KL Rahul 50, MS Dhoni 29*; Nathan Coulter-Nile 3-26) lost to Australia 127/7 in 20 overs (Glenn Maxwell 56, D’Arcy Short 37; Jasprit Bumrah 3-16) by three wickets.

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