India vs Australia T20I: The drama around Concussion Substitute

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Courtesy: Sportskeeda

India’s win in the first T20 International against Australia by 11 runs, involved a lot of controversies and the resulting drama. Yuzvendra Chahal replaced Ravindra Jadeja, India’s savior with the bat, in the second innings after the all-rounder suffered a concussion while batting.

The incident happened in the final over of India’s innings. Jadeja, who seemed to be battling with a hamstring problem in the latter half of his innings, was hit by Starc’s nasty bouncer on the helmet. The Indian physio did not treat or even examine Jadeja at that point. But it was later revealed that he suffered a delayed concussion and would play no further part for the rest of the match. A concussion substitute in Chahal was therefore appointed. And eventually, the leg-spinner remained the difference between the two sides. Not only did it take everyone by surprise but also left the players, management, as well as broadcasters, confused.

Justin Langer expressed his disapproval to the Match Referee:

Langer, FInch and Boon over concussion substitute
Courtesy: Channel Nine

In the mid-innings break, Australian captain Aaron Finch and coach Justin Langer were seen engaging in a serious discussion with the Match Referee David Boon. Initially, with the update over Jadeja’s concussion not known, the whole world thought the debate was about whether the left-hander will be allowed to bowl without participating in the field. But as it turned out, it was the inclusion of Chahal that raised questions.

According to the recent rule changes by the ICC, a player with a concussion can be substituted with a non-playing like-to-like replacement. However, the term ‘like-to-like’ was what caused the whole drama. Justin Langer and the Australian team argued that Jadeja, who had already been an important part with the bat was not equivalent to Chahal, a full-time leg-spinning option. David Boon, the match referee, however, thought otherwise letting the game carry on. The decision and all the happenings overall raised plenty of doubts over the rules demarcated by the ICC.

Moises Henriques, the Australian all-rounder:
“It has nothing to do with his hammy. I would like to look into whether it’s a like-for-like decision. The like-for-like is one is an allrounder and a gun fielder, and the other one is an out-and-out bowler who bats No.11.”

Why was the Indian Physio not asked to check on Jadeja immediately after the hit on the head? Was it a case of delayed concussion? On what basis does a player qualify as a ‘like-to-like replacement’? There have been a number of questions unanswered with this one incident. One, therefore, believes that these newly inducted rules are slated for a revision soon.

Concussion Substitute Chahal’s magic with the ball:

Yuzvendra Chahal, after the win:
“I have played so many games and was mentally fit. 10-15 minutes before the start of the innings, I got to know I will play. The way Zampa bowled, I tried to do the same as well. It was a little harder to score in the first innings. 150-160 is a good score on this wicket. I bowled according to my plans.”

India vs Australia T20: Yuzvendra Chahal the super-sub turns match India's  way
Chahal became the first-ever concussion substitute to win a Man of the Match award

Coming out of his most successful IPL, Chahal’s exclusion was already a surprise. With the dramatic turn of events though, the leg-spinner was thrown into the mix and he did prove his might. Chahal first deceived the Aussie captain Aaron Finch and followed it up with the man-in-from, Steve Smith immediately the next over. He was also pretty disciplined not giving away many runs due course. He, along with Sundar and Natarajan held the Australians well in the middle overs and also picked up a few crucial wickets. Chahal returned with man-of-the-match figures of 4-0-25-3.

Reacting to the win, the Indian captain Virat Kohli said, “There were no plans of having Yuzi in the game. Concussion replacements are a strange thing. Today, it worked for us. Yuzi showed character to squeeze the opponents”

Meanwhile, Jadeja has been replaced by Shardul Thakur into the side, perhaps confirming the seriousness of the injury. It would be interesting to see either team’s approach moving into the second T20I on Sunday. But either way, the concussion incidence has surely made the seemingly friendly and uncharacteristic India-Australia rivalry to its old aggressive bit.

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