After all the chatter around the concussion substitute, India would look to get their playing combination right from the word go on Sunday, with another bilateral T20I series win on the cards.
A resurgent Indian side will have to deal with in-form Ravindra Jadeja’s absence at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Sunday as Virat Kohli and Co have to readdress the balance in the side.
A series win will be an ideal confidence booster for India before the visitors hit Test match mode.
Having won two white-ball games in Canberra, India will hope that the next two matches at the Sydney Cricket Ground pan out better for them.
Following their victory on the back of concussion substitute Yuzvendra Chahal’s terrific bowling display, India will enter the second game with a lot more confidence even though Jadeja’s batting lower down the order will be missed.
While many have now questioned the decision to leave Chahal out of the XI, there was a reason for it. If Kohli is worried about the batting depth, he had to play Jadeja as the fifth bowling option because Chahal simply does not offer much other than four overs.
India will likely stick to five bowlers still, with the only change being Chahal replacing Jadeja in the starting XI. That will place the onus more on the specialist batsmen in the side, especially the likes of Manish Pandey, Sanju Samson and Shikhar Dhawan, who all had poor outings in Canberra. Kohli will want to step up with the bat as well.
It can’t be denied that it was only Jadeja’s unbeaten 44 off 23 balls made the difference between a winning score and a sub-par one. However for Kohli, he would expect that he wouldn’t need contributions from lower-middle order and the top five batsmen would be good enough to put up a good total on board or may be chase down a tricky target.
What India would aspire is a better effort from the top-order, especially senior opener Dhawan, who has gone off the boil after the half century in the first ODI. Skipper Kohli has been decent without being extraordinary and that has affected the team.
As for Australia, they are dealing with a growing list of absentees early in the summer. Late on Sunday, it was announced that Mitchell Starc had to withdraw from the squad due to personal reasons. Starc’s form has been shaky but
There are dounbts over Aaron Finch’s fitness, who has been in fantastic form. And with David Warner already absent due to a groin tear, the momentum that Australia had during the ODI series may not be there.
D’Arcy Short looked out of place during the first T20 International and Chahal rightly exposed his chinks, bowling wide of off-stump because he had a limited range of strokes on the off-side. Steve Smith, for all his greatness, isn’t exactly the best T20 player around and is more at ease playing the second fiddle to an enforcer, which would have to be Glenn Maxwell.
Maxwell too has his limitations which both Jasprit Bumrah and T Natarajan had exposed in the last ODI and first T20 respectively, but his form is one of the more encouraging aspects for the Aussies.
Another interesting aspect is veteran Test specialist Nathan Lyon being drafted into the Australia T20 squad and it remains to be seen if he replaces Mitchell Swepson in the playing XI. Although he got lucky with Kohli’s wicket, Swepson mostly bowled short in his two overs and on a flat Sydney deck, he could increase Australia’s worries.
India: Virat Kohli (Captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Mayank Agarwal, KL Rahul (vice-captain and wicket-keeper), Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya, Sanju Samson (wicket-keeper), Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohd. Shami, Navdeep Saini, Deepak Chahar, T Natarajan, Shardul Thakur.
Australia: Aaron Finch (C), Sean Abbott, Mitchell Swepson, Alex Carey, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood, Moises Henriques, Marnus Labuschagne, Glenn Maxwell, Daniel Sams, Kane Richardson, Steven Smith, Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade, D’Arcy Short, Adam Zampa.
Match starts 1.40 PM IST and will be broadcast live on Sony Sports Pictures Network
(With PTI inputs)
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