Bolstered by the batting unit clicking till the innings lasted and a splendid performance by Jemimah Rodrigues, India will once again look to come out all guns blazing in the second T20 International against Australia on Saturday after rain played spoilsport in the opening game at Gold Coast.
The multi-format series stands 7-5 in Australia’s favour after points were shared for the rained out match and India will need to win both remaining matches, on Saturday and Sunday, to win the series.
But the Indian team has momentum on their side, having recovered from a slow start to the series. After losing the first two ODIs (should have been one, really), they have dominated the proceedings bringing an end to the Aussies’ world-record streak of 26 wins with a two-wicket victory in the final ODI and being the better team in the rain-marred drawn pink ball Test.
The highlight for India to begin the T20I leg was Jemimah Rodrigues striking big on her India return. After losing her place in the 50-over set-up, she made a sensational comeback with an unbeaten 49 off 36 balls in the first T20I.
The 21-year-old continued her impressive showing from The Hundred to anchor the Indian innings and her return has added more firepower to the batting line-up which includes the elegant Smriti Mandhana and the young and dashing Shafali Verma at the top-order. Mandhana and Verma have been in good form during this tour, having played pivotal roles in the drawn Test and also gave India a rollicking start in the first T20 on Thursday, even if short-lived.
Harmanpreet Kaur also joined the team in the first game after missing the ODI leg and the day/night Test owing to a thumb injury. Her presence makes India a formidable batting unit.
On Thursday, India looked set to post a good total on the board as they scored at a quick pace and were 131 for 4 in 15.2 overs before the game was washed out. Now, Harmanpreet and Co will look to win the next two T20s to end the tour on a high and their batting clicking into form would be a boost.
The back-to-back games will also be about fine-tuning their skills and regaining touch ahead of next year’s ODI World Cup, especially for Harmanpreet, who missed out on game time due to multiple injury setbacks.
In the bowling department, veteran seamer Shikha Pandey will look to hit her stride after being benched in the other formats while newcomer Renuka Singh will look to add to the pace department. Both of them were part of the XI in the first match, despite not getting on to the field and should retain their spots.
Australia, on the other hand, boast of a number of quality all-rounders in the shorter formats and the hosts will depend on them. Captain Meg Lanning has plenty of options and she will hope the young stars will deliver in the next two matches.
All-rounder Tahlia McGrath, who was impressive in the pink ball Test, conceded 14 runs on debut in the only over she bowled on Thursday and she will be itching to prove a point. Young Hannah Darlington too will look to grab the opportunities.
The hosts also have plenty of experience in Ellyse Perry, Alyssa Healy, Meg Lanning, Ashleigh Gardner and Beth Mooney to trouble the Indians. But all eyes will once again be on Tayla Vlaeminck, the pacer who seemed to have broken the speed gun in the first match on her return to the side.
A promising contest is on the cards, weather permitting. In the five matches before the washed out game on Thursday, Australia and India had won alternate meetings with the hosts clinching the last tie famously in front of a packed MCG crowd for the T20 World Cup final. But India, as they have done in recent past, will once again offer a stern test to the world champions.
India: Harmanpreet Kaur (c), Smriti Mandhana (vc), Shafali Verma, Jemimah Rodrigues, Deepti Sharma, Sneh Rana, Yastika Bhatia, Shikha Pandey, Meghna Singh, Pooja Vastrakar, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Poonam Yadav, Richa Ghosh (wk), Harleen Deol, Arundhati Reddy, Radha Yadav, Renuka Singh.
Australia: Meg Lanning (c), Darcie Brown, Maitlan Brown, Stella Campbell, Nicola Carey, Hannah Darlington, Ashleigh Gardner, Alyssa Healy, Tahlia McGrath, Sophie Molineux, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Georgia Redmayne, Molly Strano, Annabel Sutherland, Tayla Vlaeminck, Georgia Wareham.
Match starts at 1.40pm IST.
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