Concussion substitute Chahal wins the first T20 match for India

By Kersi Meher-Homji

What drama! What a concussion controversy! And what a thrilling ending as a substitute player won a match for India and voted Man of the Match! Wonders will never cease.

The first T20 International at Canberra was a match to remember for the winners India and a match to forget for the home team.

Australia was on top when India lost 5 for 92; opening batsman Lokesh Rahul dismissed for 51. Then Ravindra Jadeja came out to bat and smacked 44 runs off 23 balls, hitting five fours and a six. India totaled a challenging 7 for 161 in 20 overs. Australia’s medium-pacer Moises Henriques took 3 for 22.

Jadeja was obviously in pain at the later stage of his innings due to a hamstring injury but kept smashing balls all over the field. In the final over he was hit on the helmet by Australia’s fast bowler Mitchell Starc. Medicos diagnosed that he was concussed. And under International Cricket Council’s new concussion rules, Jadeja was given a concussion replacement; leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal.

Australia’s coach Justin Langer protested strongly to the match referee David Boon that Chahal, a bowler, was not a like-for-like substitute for all-rounder Jadeja. But Boon stated that it was covered by the new rule.

Australia’s innings started with flair as openers D’Arcy Short (34) and captain Aaron Finch (35) put on 56 in 7.4 overs. Then the bowling was handed to the concussion substitute Chahal and the scenario changed sensationally.

Chahal dismissed Finch, Steve Smith and Matthew Wade soon and Australia could make only 7 for 150 and lost by 11 runs. In four overs Chahal captured 3 for 22 and was made the Man of the Match.

Amazing, not in the team for the first half of the match and a hero two hours later! India leads 1-0 as the series continues in Sydney tomorrow and on Tuesday.

This match will be remembered for the substitution of an all-rounder by a leg-spinner. The controversy continues and will continue for a long time.

Teams are permitted to make a like-for-like substitution if a player is concussed but the Australians questioned whether Chahal as a bowler should have substituted for all-rounder Jadeja. Henriques said Australia was not suggesting Jadeja’s leg issue had contributed to him being ruled out.

“One is an all-rounder and a gun fielder and the other one is an out and out bowler who bats 11,” said Henriques.

“It’s nothing to do with his hammy. I guess I’d like to look into that as a like-for-like decision so to speak because we’ve already seen one half of how Jadeja can be, how well he can bat. There’s no doubt he got hit on the head, he got hit on the helmet and then professionals made a decision from there.”

My question to Henriques: From where can India produce an all-rounder like Jadeja in a hurry? When Australia batted, Jadeja would have bowled left-arm spin. And Chahal is a leg-spinner. So isn’t it like-for-like? Batting does not come in the equation.


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