Australia skipper David Warner hailed Jason Behrendorff after the left-arm quick powered Australia to an eight-wicket series-levelling win over India in the second Twenty20 international on Tuesday.
Behrendorff, playing his second match after making his debut in Ranchi last week, claimed four wickets to bowl out India for 118 before the visitors chased down the total with 27 balls to spare.
Moises Henriques, who hit 62 after being promoted to number three, and Travis Head, who made 48, put together an unbeaten 109-run partnership to keep the three-match series alive.
“Credit to our bowlers, they took early wickets. And obviously Dorff bowling there and taking four for in his first real spell for us was fantastic,” Warner said.
“He has got the height, the bounce, he comes from Perth, got a bit of swing and he has got right attitude which is key,” Warner added.
Australia lost a couple of early wickets including Warner for two, but the 119-run target proved too little for the Indian bowlers to put pressure on the new batsmen.
The right-left batting combination of Henriques and Head played sensible cricket to deny the hosts any further chance of creating trouble.
Henriques hit four fours and four sixes during his 46-ball knock while Head also attacked the Indian wrist spinners with some good footwork.
“Sending Henriques early was something I spoke about. He’s been effective with Sunrisers (Hyderabad) as well, and he came and showed his experience,” Warner said of his Indian Premier League teammate.
“In the beginning, the pitch was softish, quite like an English wicket. But if you got through the new ball, you could score,” he said of the Barsapara Satdium that hosted its first international game.
– ‘Australia much better’ –
But it was Behrendorff’s left-arm pace that set up the match for Australia after the lanky bowler returned impressive figures of 4-21.
The 27-year-old Behrendorff rattled the Indian top-order, reducing them to 27-4 after getting opener Rohit Sharma and skipper Virat Kohli, for nought, in the first over of the innings.
Kedar Jadhav and Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who made 13, then tried to stem the rot during their 33-run partnership but leg-spinner Adam Zampa broke through the duo’s defences.
Zampa got Dhoni stumped on a classic leg-spinner and then bowled Jadhav with the googly.
Hardik Pandya hit a 23-ball 25 to take India across the 100-run mark, which had seemed tough at 70-7, but the batsman’s dismissal saw the innings fold on the last ball.
Pacemen Nathan Coulter-Nile, Andre Tye and Marcus Stoinis took a wicket each.
“Not the performance we wished for. Australia were much better on the day. We were not good enough with the bat,” said Kohli.
“Indeed, I thought the ball to Rohit was very good. His line and length was very tight. He made us think. Credit to him for hitting the right areas. He definitely had a top class day today,” Kohli said in praise of Behrendorff.
The final game will be played in Hyderabad on Friday.