Yuzvendra Chahal became the first concussion substitute to earn the player of the match award in international cricket as he helped India seal victory in their opening Twenty20 cricket international against Australia in Canberra.
Australia head coach Justin Langer clashed with match referee David Boon about Chahal being allowed to take his place in the game. Chahal replaced Ravindra Jadeja, who made 44 from 23 balls in India’s 161 for seven.
Jadeja top-edged a bouncer from Mitchell Starc into his helmet while batting in the final over of India’s innings. He did not have an on-field concussion test, and added another 10 runs. India said that Jadeja felt dizzy and India’s team doctor said that Jadeja was concussed after the blow, leading Boon to approve Chahal entering the field as a concussion substitute.
Australia protested that Chahal was not a genuine like-for-like replacement, as concussion substitutes are required to be. While Jadeja is seen as primarily a containing spinner – to go with his all-round skills – Chahal is viewed as a more aggressive, wicket-taking option. Chahal’s return of three for 25 – including star batsmen Aaron Finch and Steve Smith – were pivotal in India’s 11-run victory. To add to the controversy, Jadeja also sustained an apparent hamstring injury during his innings.
“It has nothing to do with his hammy. I would like to look into whether it’s a like-for-like decision,” Australia all-rounder Moises Henriques said. “The like-for-like is one is an all-rounder and a gun fielder, and the other one is an out-and-out bowler who bats No11.”
If a player is replaced for a non-concussion injury – such as a hamstring – they are not able to bat or bowl, with ICC rules only permitting concussion substitutes to be involved in these ways. India’s captain Virat Kohli said that Jadeja “was a bit dizzy and still is”.
Concussion substitutes, which had been trialled in domestic cricket in Australia and England for several years, were introduced in all international cricket matches from last August. Substitutes have to be a “like-for-like replacement” and approved by the match referee.
The next T20 international between the sides will take place on Sunday, with India seeking a series victory after losing the one-day international series 2-1. The eagerly anticipated four-match Test series between the sides begins on Dec 17, with Australia seeking to regain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.