Team India had a night to forget on Tuesday when they suffered a four-wicket loss to Australia in the first T20I of the three-match series in Mohali. Despite putting up a huge target of 209, the Rohit Sharma-led side completely failed with the ball as the pacers, including Harshal Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, and Hardik Pandya, conceded 150 runs in 12 overs. Among all the pacers, Harshal, who was making a comeback in the team after being ruled out due to an injury, utterly disappointed the fans as he gave away 49 runs in his spell.
However, former India cricketer Sanjay Manjrekar doubts if the bowler would be effective on the flat and bouncy pitches of Australia in the T20 World Cup that takes place in October-November.
“Harshal is someone we’ve seen for a number of years. We’ve seen him in the IPL as well. He’s a guy who rebels when the pitch is dry when his slower ball becomes really slow and becomes very difficult to play,” Manjrekar told Sports18.
“Last time his slower balls were going at around 120kmph. So, it’s not a huge drop in pace. So, Harshal is a worry if the pitch is flat, bouncy and pacy. That’s what you’ll get in Australia. So that’s another thing that India will be mindful of, the skills of Harshal in Australia,” Manjrekar added.
Earlier this year, Harshal was thrashed on Ireland’s flat pitch, where he leaked 54 runs in his 4-over spell. Despite all these factors, the team management has named Harshal in the T20 World Cup squad, that will be flying to Australia in October.
Coming to the first T20I, it was Hardik’s second T20I half-century helped India post 208/6 batting first. Earlier, KL Rahul (55 off 35) and Suryakumar Yadav (46 off 25) had laid the platform for India.
However, it was not enough as Australia chased down the target with four deliveries to spare.
Cameron Green’s 61 off 30 deliveries at the top of the order and Matthew Wade’s unbeaten 45 off 21 batting at No.7 guided the visitors to a 1-0 series lead.
Axar Patel shone with the ball, taking three wickets for just 17 runs off his four overs, but the rest of the Indian bowlers were taken to the cleaners by the Australian batters.
Both the teams will be squaring off for the second T20I match on Friday in Nagpur.
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