Justin Langer clashed with match referee David Boon before a controversial concussion substitution allowed Yuzvendra Chahal to spin India to victory in the opening Twenty20 international.
In a dramatic match at Canberra's Manuka Oval, Australia fell 11 runs short of India's 7-161, with an injury to captain Aaron Finch adding to the pain.
Australia's chase stumbled after an 56-run opening stand between Finch and D'Arcy Short, with Chalal taking 3-25 to be named man of the match.
After starting the game on the bench, Chalal was brought in to the match as a concussion replacement for Ravindra Jadeja at the change of innings.
Jadeja top edged a Mitchell Starc bouncer into his helmet while batting in the final over of India's innings, but did not receive an on-field assessment.
Under the ICC's rules, a doctor does not have to come on to the field immediately but would have had to at the end of the over had the innings not concluded.
India captain Virat Kohli said Jadeja was dizzy at the time, and remained dizzy at match end.
Complicating the matter was that Jadeja had suffered an apparent hamstring injury in the previous over, and was clearly struggling to run during his unbeaten 44 from 23 balls.
Australia's main question, however, surrounded whether Chalal is a like-for-like replacement, given that he is a legspinner who bats No.11 and Jadeja is a finger-spinning allrounder.
Langer could be seen in a heated discussion with match referee David Boon in the innings break, as Jadeja was replaced by Chahal.
"It has nothing to do with his hammy. I would like to look into whether it's a like-for-like decision," Australia's allrounder Moises Henriques said.
— Michael Vaughan (@MichaelVaughan) December 4, 2020
Important to note though that it is the match referee who determines the concussion substitute and he has the power to restrict a player from bowling in order for the replacement to be considered like-for-like.
— Ashish Magotra (@clutchplay) December 4, 2020
I like that this Chahal-Jadeja incident has added a bit of spice to the series. All the niceness & laughing & joking & go-well-youngster & we’re-all-mates & I-love-you-cause-IPL-rocks was getting a bit annoying. It’s an India tour of Australia after all! #AUSvIND
— Raunak Kapoor (@RaunakRK) December 4, 2020
"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."
Chalal then claimed the key first two wickets of Aaron Finch and Steve Smith, before also removing Matt Wade late to open up Australia's lower order.
T20 loss worsened by potential Aaron Finch injury
Australia could face a captaincy conundrum with Aaron Finch set for scans on an injured upper leg ahead of the second Twenty20 at the SCG.
Finch battled a hip and glute problem in Friday night's series-opening loss to India at Manuka Oval, after being hurt while in the field.
He still opened in Australia's chase but appeared in some discomfort, and at one stage required attention from medical staff in his 35 off 26 balls.
"It was a bit of a hip or glute (problem)," Finch said.
"We'll wait and see after the game. It progressively got worse during the game. I am sure I will get a scan tomorrow and see how we go."
If Finch is out, selectors will have to mull over a serious decision when it comes to his replacement as captain.
Only one other man in Australia's squad has captained the country in any format, and that is Steve Smith.
However, while the former skipper is eligible to return to the captaincy, he has not been given any formal leadership position in a team since the ball-tampering saga.
Regular vice-captain Pat Cummins is being rested for the Twenty20 series, while Matthew Wade had that title on Friday night.
Alex Carey has previously been a vice-captain alongside Cummins, but was not selected on Friday. There is, however, every chance he could open if Finch is out.
Josh Hazlewood could be another alternative, having once held a vice-captaincy role back in the 2018-19 summer.