Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, Hyderabad
October 13, Friday; 19:00 IST
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The main picture
The Australia of old were on view on Tuesday night and they made a high-flying Indian side with all the confidence and momentum in the world look ordinary. The visitors bowled and batted so brilliantly that they made us ask ourselves, “What was the fuss all about with this Virat Kohli‘s team?”.
Of course, having Jason Behrendorff in their bowling ranks helped because of his being a largely unknown commodity to the Indian batsmen. Having bowled only one over on his T20 International debut in Ranchi last Saturday, this western Australian quick remained a bowler who the home team’s batsmen didn’t have much clue about. And he made the tangible difference for Australia in conditions that were helpful for the bowlers.
Only Behrendorff, because his natural length is fuller and he has tended to land the ball in the four to six-metre zone on the pitch, could have troubled the Indian batsmen. Nathan Coulter-Nile is a hit-the-deck-bowler and Andrew Tye and Marcus Stoinis are more medium-pace and hence were unlikely to have the kind of effect, even if they had managed to swing the ball, as Behrendorff. However, we cannot deprive the other four bowlers (Adam Zampa, in addition to the trio aforementioned) of the credit they completely deserve, for harnessing the favourable bowling conditions and the initiative provided by their new colleague.
Behrendorff set the tone, but essentially, a team effort was what sealed a series-levelling, eight-wicket victory. Australia caught well, fielded well and even in a small chase of 119, batted aggressively to get the job done in 15.3 overs. The bottom line is, they had a perfect day at the office and we will see if they can replicate the same level of performance on Friday night, in the 3rd T20, at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad.
Ahead of the decider, we can safely say that Australia have regained some of the lost confidence on this tour. The batting form of Warner remains a worry and Glenn Maxwell, who has been under the scanner for a while on this tour, didn’t bat in Guwahati. So, though question marks remain over Australia’s batting line-up, as a team, never before on this tour will they have felt more confident about facing India. The XI who took the field on Tuesday gave Australia the look of a balanced team. And, going into Friday’s 3rd T20, the visitors are the most settled.
Revisiting what was said at the start, the Twenty20 format is such that you can look an ordinary team as India did on an off-day. Losing the toss had a definitive impact on the match, but the Indian batting line-up failed miserably on one of the very few occasions they have been tested lately. The fragility in the middle order will upset the team management and force them to look for alternatives.
While India might not encounter such a lively pitch in the coming months and Tuesday’s batting performance might be quickly forgotten, this is a cue for India’s opponents, in case they hadn’t already known it, that if you dismiss Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli early, you can put yourself in a commanding position in the match. Shikhar Dhawan has lacked rhythm since returning to the side and with Kohli also not being his usual self, India’s batting line-up faces a massive test on Friday, particularly if the conditions in Hyderabad are any similar to what we had in Guwahati.
Bhuvneshwar and co. didn’t have the cushion of runs and in trying to go for wickets, they bowled a few loose deliveries that Moises Henriques and Travis Head made the most of. The small matter of the dew didn’t help matters either. Like the rest of the team, the Indian bowlers need to be in a positive frame of mind after a tough day.
The series is level 1-1 and we have everything to play for in the final match of Australia tour of India 2017. However, the host city has received plenty of rain over the last month, causing heavy floods. On Monday and Tuesday alone, Hyderabad received about 38mm of rain and the weather forecast for the coming days isn’t great either. Showers and thunderstorms are predicted for Friday and we will be fortunate to get a full match. With the threat of rain looming large, expect the toss to, once again, be a decisive factor.
India vs Australia head to head in T20 Internationals
Australia, with their first T20I win on Indian soil, have bridged the gap in the head-to-head record against India somewhat, bringing it to 5-10. India’s run of seven consecutive victories in T20 Internationals against Australia was also brought to an end.
IND: LWWLW (last five T20Is, from left to right)
3rd T20: India vs Australia playing XI
One Indian batsman whose place is under threat is Manish Pandey. In Guwahati, he got to bat for the first time in this series and was dismissed by the kind of ball that will have provoked even accomplished batsmen to poke at it. But of all those in the Indian batting line-up, Pandey was the one who had to score runs to secure his place in the side. The fact that he didn’t makes his spot uncertain for the Hyderabad T20I. Dinesh Karthik is a possible replacement for this Karnataka batsman. Other than this possible change, I don’t expect any changes to the Indian XI.
Possible India playing XI for 3rd T20: 1 Virat Kohli (c), 2 Rohit Sharma, 3 Shikhar Dhawan, 4 Dinesh Karthik, 5 Kedar Jadhav, 6 MS Dhoni (wk), 7 Hardik Pandya, 8 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 9 Kuldeep Yadav, 10 Jasprit Bumrah, and 11 Yuzvendra Chahal
Australia are likely to stick with the winning combination, meaning Daniel Christian and Kane Richardson will continue to sit out.
Likely Australian playing 11: 1 David Warner (c), 2 Aaron Finch, 3 Moises Henriques, 4 Travis Head, 5 Glenn Maxwell, 6 Marcus Stoinis, 7 Tim Paine (wk), 8 Nathan Coulter-Nile, 9 Andrew Tye, 10 Adam Zampa, and 11 Jason Behrendorff
Australia will have a spring in their stride and believe that they can beat India for the third time on this tour. A win here will help them “go home with a trophy.” For Virat Kohli and co., this is a test of their bounce-back ability, which they have shown on numerous occasions this year and under Kohli’s captaincy across formats. You can be rest assured that they are raring to show who the boss is.
The toss proved decisive in the first two T20Is, with the team winning the toss and bowling first going on to win the match, and it might have a telling effect in the 3rd T20 too because of the wet weather in Hyderabad. For the first time in this limited-overs series, India and Australia start on an even keel. And if the rain stays away, we have a mouthwatering contest in store.