Barsapara Cricket Stadium, Guwahati
October 10, Tuesday; 19:00 IST
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The main picture
Australia’s nightmare limited-overs tour of India continued on Saturday, when yet another poor batting display consigned them to a nine-wicket loss by DLS method. That defeat has put the visitors on the brink of losing the Twenty20 International series also to a relentless Indian side. On a lot of occasions during the last month, Team India haven’t had to be brilliant and yet been able to register dominant victories, all thanks to madness and a lack of nous from the five-time world champions.
Ahead of the first T20, we wondered if the change in format will reverse Australia’s fortunes, with the stroke-makers in their batting line-up (David Warner, Aaron Finch and Glenn Maxwell) potentially being able to hold their own. Finch and Warner did make a couple of big scores each in the ODI series, but they surely had more to offer with the bat. The nature of this format is such that no batsman has to hold himself back at any stage of an innings and so, the likes of Warner and Maxwell, who like to dominate the bowling and stamp their authority, were expected to bat freely and be in full flow, finally.
What we, however, saw on Saturday was a failure on Warner and Maxwell’s parts, in particular, to rectify the mistakes that had cost this duo. Warner, for instance, was time and again troubled by deliveries on and around his off-stump by not just Bhuvneshwar Kumar in the ODI series. And Maxwell’s impetuousness and arrogance had seen him fall thrice to Yuzvendra Chahal. But their dismissals in Ranchi not only pointed to a failure to learn from past mistakes but also clever bowling from the Indian duo of Bhuvneshwar and Chahal, who, you can say, was a touch fortunate to claim the wicket of Maxwell, with a short delivery that could have been dispatched to any part of the ground, for the fourth time.
Going forward, Australia need Warner and Maxwell to come good if they are to get back into this T20 series and not concede another series defeat. The only positive for them was Finch continuing his good form from the ODI series, with a 30-ball 42. He had been comfortable at the crease and played some powerful bottom-hand strokes that will surely have boosted his confidence further. In the absence of Steven Smith, who has flown back to Australia because of a sore shoulder, these three batsmen ought to come good, while Smith’s replacement, Marcus Stoinis, is capable of reinforcing a middle order that was too brittle in the first match.
The importance of winning the toss cannot be understated from India’s perspective, with the decision to bowl first subsequently helping them maintain their dominance by winning a rain-hit match. Bhuvneshwar Kumar and co. were flawless once again and set up India’s victory. With the match becoming curtailed, we didn’t learn much about the Indian batting line-up and the supposedly suspect middle order, in particular. India continue to look good in every aspect and an appropriate question is, what do you have to do to stop Virat Kohli and co.?
Tuesday’s India vs Australia second T20 International will be the first-ever international match hosted by the Barsapara Cricket Stadium in Guwahati. The construction work was completed only recently and being the first-ever international match to be played here, we have yet to gather an idea about the nature of the pitch here and it adds to the intrigue around what’s a do-or-die match for Australia. The forecast is for cloudy skies and scattered thunderstorms, though the evening weather is expected to be clear and non-disruptive. India didn’t train on the eve of the match due to rain and wet outfield.
India vs Australia head to head in T20 Internationals
India extended their dominant head-to-head record against Australia in T20s to 10-4 by winning the first T20I. Saturday’s was India’s seventh straight victory over the Aussies in the sport’s shortest format and fourth on Indian soil.
IND: WWLWW (last five T20Is, from left to right)
2nd T20: India vs Australia playing XI
The Indian bowlers set up India’s nine-wicket DLS victory on Saturday and all of them, including all-rounder Hardik Pandya, will expect to keep their places in the playing 11 for the second T20. The batsmen will likewise too, with three of them not having had a bat and the three others facing only about two overs each.
So, in case of no injuries between now and Tuesday, here’s the probable India playing XI for 2nd T20:
1 Virat Kohli (c), 2 Rohit Sharma, 3 Shikhar Dhawan, 4 Manish Pandey, 5 Kedar Jadhav, 6 MS Dhoni (wk), 7 Hardik Pandya, 8 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 9 Kuldeep Yadav, 10 Yuzvendra Chahal, and 11 Jasprit Bumrah
Australia might field the same XI from Saturday as well, with most of their batsmen having played their first match and gotten their first hit, too. Having said so, the team management will look to integrate Marcus Stoinis, the replacement for Smith and who had a good one-day series with bat and ball, into the line-up. Getting Stoinis into the playing 11 will be a sign of ambition and badly wanting to win.
Likely Australian playing 11: 1 David Warner, 2 Aaron Finch, 3 Glenn Maxwell, 4 Travis Head, 5 Moises Henriques/Marcus Stoinis, 6 Daniel Christian, 7 Tim Paine (wk), 8 Andrew Tye, 9 Nathan Coulter-Nile, 10 Jason Behrendorff, and 11 Adam Zampa
On current form, considering the resources Virat Kohli has at his disposal and also a lack of firepower in their opposition’s ranks, India have to be considered overwhelming favourites to win the second T20I too and do a series whitewash on Australia. But taking into account the nature of this format and the potential for improvement in their ranks, Australia aren’t incapable of fighting back and unsettling India.