In a low scoring match at Visakhapatnam, it was Australia who got the upper hand as they defeated India by 3 wickets in the 1st T20I, taking a 1-0 lead in the two-match series. Indian skipper Virat Kohli lauded the bowler's performance but was evidently disappointed with the show the batsmen put up.
Put into bat, opener Rahul's half-century on comeback but an inexplicable batting collapse found India restricted to a paltry 126 for 7 in 20 overs.
India vs Australia, 1st T20I: Australia survive in thrilling chase, pull off last-ball win to go 1-0 up
Back in the senior team after two-month wilderness due to his trash talk on a TV show, Rahul showed why he is rated highly during his 36-ball-50 but some indiscreet shot selection from his teammates meant that only 46 runs were scored in the back 10.
From a comfortable 80 for two in 9.5 overs, India lost four wickets for 20 runs by the 15th over to be reduced to 100 for six.
"In the first innings, we were not up to scratch. The wicket was decent enough till the 15th over. We didn't bat really well. A low scoring game is always on the cards in T20 cricket," said Kohli in the post-match presentation.
With 14 required off the last over, Umesh was hit for a boundary each by Jhye Richardson and Pat Cummins, who had identical scores of 7 not out as they reached the target of 127 off the last delivery of the match.
"With the bowling effort we were pleased. Bumrah can do wonders with the ball when it is reversing and did exceptionally well to get us in the game. And Mayank did well in the middle overs as well," said Kohli.
India's wrist spin duo of Yuzvendra Chahal (1/28 in 4 overs) and debutant Mayank Markande (0/31 in 4 overs) couldn't much of make an impact on Maxwell, who blasted both of them for towering sixes.
Rahul made an impressive half-century on his comeback but Pant was needlessly run-out during India's three-wicket defeat against Australia in the first T20 International.
"Anything is possible now. We want to give game time to Rahul and Pant to figure out what we need to do in the World Cup," added the skipper.
"I think he (Rahul) played a really good knock, we had a good partnership. 150 would have been a winning score the way the pitch played. Australia deserved to win as they played better than us, concluded" Kohli.
India will now hope to draw the two-match series with the final game being played in Bengaluru.