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Player of the Match
Player of the Match

Ravindra Jadeja, Yuzvendra Chahal take India 1-0 up amid concussion controversy

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WATCH: Chahal dismisses Aaron Finch, Steven Smith and Matthew Wade (0:52)

The legspinner grabbed 3 for 25 after coming on as a concussion substitute for Ravindra Jadeja (0:52)

India 161 for 7 (Rahul 51, Jadeja 44*, Henriques 3-22, Starc 2-34) beat Australia 150 for 7 (Finch 35, Short 34, Chahal 3-25, Natarajan 3-30) by 11 runs

Concussion substitute Yuzvendra Chahal plucked three vital wickets and opened a fresh chapter in cricket's long history of debating topics after being chosen - controversially - to replace Ravindra Jadeja, delivering India a comfortable victory in the opening T20I at Manuka Oval in Canberra.

ALSO WATCH: Match highlights - Jadeja, Chahal, Natarajan help India win series opener (India subcontinent only)

Jadeja's exit from the contest - he suffered a hamstring injury first and was then hit on the helmet in the last over of India's innings - allowed India to call upon a wristspinner in Chahal, who had been harshly treated during the ODI series but found himself defending a serviceable total on the night and responding grandly.

In contrast, the Australians gradually lost grip of a contest that had appeared more or less in their keeping when India were restricted to 114 for 6 with 19 balls of their innings remaining after Aaron Finch sent them in to bat. A target of 162 should still have been well within the grasp of Finch's team, but their innings sank steadily into the mire thanks to Chahal, T Natarajan's zippy left-armers, and Virat Kohli's growing command of the battlefield.

Starc returns in finer fettle

Something was not quite right about Mitchell Starc in the first two ODIs, and he was missing from the third with what was described as a minor side and/or rib complaint. This had been a surprise to many, given his recent displays with both white and red ball, but the physical ailment had at least gone some way to explaining why he had been lined up so effectively by India's batsmen at the SCG.

At Manuka, Starc returned, and while not quite firing on all cylinders, he offered something far closer to his best in his opening two overs. At high pace, he found a hint of swing into KL Rahul during the opening over of the match, and found the lines and lengths that made him hard to dispatch to the boundary on a good pitch. In his second over, Starc struck, and Shikhar Dhawan was the victim.

Seeing a delivery of fullish length, Dhawan leant forward to drive, but, to his horror, saw the ball curl away late to flick off stump. Starc celebrated with a touch of the rueful grin - there was something of "so that's where I left it" about his response.

ALSO WATCH: Video highlights: Chahal's match-winning three-for (India subcontinent only)

Henriques does a Watson

Back in the day, when he was a strapping teenager, Moises Henriques was regarded as one of Australian cricket's brightest young pace-bowling prospects by no less a judge than Damien Fleming. He was undoubtedly able to bowl faster at a younger age than many. In this, he shared something with Shane Watson, who suffered early in his career from the injuries and fluctuations of a body trying to cope with his efforts to bowl as fast as possible while still developing into maturity.

At length, Watson evolved into a highly intelligent swing and seam bowler at a little over medium pace, and right up to his retirement from T20s this year was a highly challenging opponent for any batsman in the shortest format. Australia had certainly felt his absence at key times since his retirement from internationals in 2015. Five years later, Henriques has returned to the Australian team and shown that he too has evolved with time into a clever middle-overs merchant.

His spell of 3 for 22 ensured Rahul could not take control of the latter part of the innings after Mitchell Swepson had pouched the key wicket of Kohli, and also ensured that Hardik Pandya could not exert the kind of late-innings influence he had in the third ODI. Even when Marcus Stoinis is fit, Henriques' bowling has given the selectors something to think about.

Like for dislike

When Jadeja was struck on the helmet by Starc in the final over of an innings he played a key role in pushing to competitive territory, having already been restricted by an apparent hamstring strain while batting, his case raised all sorts of questions. Not checked for concussion on the field, Jadeja was apparently assessed between innings and found to be suffering from a possible concussion. India's squad lists include a doctor - Abjihit Salvi - but there had been no mandatory test on field for a hit on the helmet as now has become commonplace in Australia.

Once the decision for a concussion substitute was made, the questions evolved into those around the right replacement. In what was a very public debate between Langer and match referee - also his first batting partner in a Test match - David Boon, it was very clear the hosts were miffed by both the concussion situation and the fact that Chahal was chosen as Jadeja's replacement.

But just as Langer himself had recently demonstrated when he revealed the selection debate around whether to choose Mitchell Marsh or Marnus Labuschagne to sub for Steven Smith in the 2019 Ashes Test at Lord's, "like for like" is a very subjective concept. It only became more so when Chahal dismissed Finch and Smith, to give India a chance of upsetting the Australian chase.

India make it 2-2

On one level, Australia have won the ODI series and are still in the T20I series. On another, India have emerged from the funk of the first two games of their tour in Sydney, and have now twice beaten the hosts in two games in different formats to give their visit a sense of momentum. They did so with an impressive ensemble effort with the ball, whatever the whys and wherefores of Chahal subbing in for Jadeja.

Australia's innings, having begun well through Finch and Short as they added 56 in 46 balls, went on a long, slow decline after the loss of the first wicket. The quick exits of Smith and Glenn Maxwell, the latter after an interminable delay while ball-tracking was summoned on an lbw that appeared to feature a good deal of doubt about whether the ball had pitched outside leg stump, rather took the wind out of the home viewing area, and it was clear that Short, as his innings slowed to ineffectiveness, Henriques and Matthew Wade were not going to be able to step up.

Ultimately, the game was not particularly close as T20Is go, leaving the Australians to choose between their evident frustration at the substitution and the fact of an increasingly resurgent India.

Australia 2nd innings Partnerships

WktRunsPlayers
1st56AJ FinchDJM Short
2nd16SPD SmithDJM Short
3rd3DJM ShortGJ Maxwell
4th38MC HenriquesDJM Short
5th9MC HenriquesMS Wade
6th4MC HenriquesSA Abbott
7th1MA StarcSA Abbott
8th23SA AbbottMJ Swepson