India vanquished Australia by 11 runs in the 1st T20I at the Manuka Oval in Canberra to extend their winning streak in the format to 9.
Riding on the back of a sizzling cameo from Ravindra Jadeja and a 3-wicket haul from his concussion substitute Yuzvendra Chahal, the Men in Blue took a 1-0 lead in the 3-match series.
The composition of their playing XI and batting order have been subjects of great discussion over the last few weeks, among fans and experts alike. With their win in the 1st T20I, India answered a number of questions that have been posed to them by followers of the game.
Here are the 3 biggest positives for India from the 1st T20I against Australia.
#3 Washington Sundar's stingy spell
Washington Sundar was included in the playing XI for the 1st T20I against Australia ahead of Yuzvendra Chahal, and this was probably due to his skill with the bat. He justified the selection with a superb 4-over spell that saw him concede only 16 runs (and only one boundary).
Quick through the air and accurate, Sundar didn't give the batsmen any room to use the pace he was bowling at. The 21-year-old even undertook the task of bowling the 16th over, and conceded just 3 runs against Matthew Wade and Moises Henriques.
Sundar contributed only 7 runs with the bat, but his performance served as a major boost for India, who are desperately short of all-rounders. With Ravindra Jadeja ruled out of the remainder of the T20I series, the onus will fall on the Tamil Nadu off-spinner to make a spot in the playing XI his own.
#2 KL Rahul's sparkling fifty at the top of the order
KL Rahul has been moved around the batting order like a hot potato over the past year. He opened the innings for India in the 2019 World Cup after Shikhar Dhawan's injury, and was then moved back down to No. 4 until Shreyas Iyer made the spot his own in ODI cricket.
Now, Rahul finds himself batting as low as No. 5 in the 50-over format. But a stellar Indian Premier League season in which he finished with the Orange Cap, the Kings XI Punjab skipper was asked to open the batting in the 1st T20I against Australia.
Rahul didn't disappoint, as he registered a fairly fluent 40-ball 51 that made up for a slow start and the failures of Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli. He made it clear that he should open the batting in the shortest format of the game, and India will have to try out other middle-order options like Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey and Sanju Samson in the lead-up to the T20 World Cup next year.
#1 T Natarajan's fairy-tale T20I debut for India
T Natarajan's story has now become common knowledge, and the Tamil Nadu pacer has been on the receiving end of an outpouring of wishes from all corners of the cricketing fraternity since making his ODI debut a few days ago.
Natarajan took it one step further with his India debut in the 20-over format, as his 3-wicket haul - including the prized wicket of the in-form Glenn Maxwell - derailed the Australian run-chase. The 29-year-old might finally be the answer to India's search for a left-arm pacer, and he'll be a great asset to the team with his yorkers at the death.
Natarajan's performance on T20I debut drew a number of parallels with Jasprit Bumrah, as Virender Sehwag illustrated in the following social media post:
With Bumrah likely to return to the playing XI for the 2nd T20I in place of Mohammed Shami, we might see India field what could become one of the most feared death-bowling pairs in the world.