Sydney Cricket Ground
November 25, Sunday; 13:20 IST
Live on SPN, streaming on SonyLiv
The main picture
India might or might not have won in Melbourne if the rain had relented enough to at least allow for the completion of a truncated match. India will have had to get 46 runs from five overs according to the last of the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern revisions, and we can never say with certainty if India will have scored those runs.
But when they look back at the 19 overs of cricket that was played, India will certainly take many positives to the third T20I on Sunday at Sydney Cricket Ground. The India team management was rewarded for persisting with the same XI: Khaleel Ahmed and Krunal Pandya, in particular, shone with the ball after being punished severely in Brisbane, taking 2/39 and 1/26 in their four overs. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who is returning from a lower-back injury and trying to regain his bowling rhythm, bowled brilliantly in conditions that helped him move the ball in the air and off the pitch. And Jasprit Bumrah and Kuldeep Yadav were excellent once again.
Virat Kohli’s decision-making was excellent, too, in Melbourne. His decision to give the new ball to Khaleel paid dividends and the Indian captain will probably realise that it is the way forward when the left-arm seamer is part of the bowling attack in limited-overs cricket.
Australia might have paid the price (if not for the rain) for a disappointing batting performance after a good show in Brisbane. As the home team, they seemed to lack awareness of the big square boundaries and didn’t avoid playing aerial shots square of the pitch on either side. (As many as four batsmen were out caught in the deep playing horizontal-bat shots.) At SCG, the square boundary on one side is much longer than the other, something which the bowlers, and spinners particularly, can use to their advantage.
From Australia’s perspective, they need Aaron Finch to come good at the top of the order. Of all the Australian batsmen, him and Marcus Stoinis alone have the defensive technique and patience to play a long innings, which will allow the stroke-makers around to play with freedom.
Despite the good and bad for India and Australia in Melbourne, the two teams must start afresh on Sunday. 1-0 down in the series, India are the team under pressure, but they will believe that they can level the series if the bowlers collectively perform well again.
Sydney pitch report and weather forecast
The SCG pitch tends to offer more purchase to spinners than most other Australian venues. It is likely to be another good batting pitch with good pace and carry.
The forecast says that Sunday evening will be clear and partly cloudy with a temperature of 16 degree Celsius.
3rd T20: India vs Australia playing XI
At the toss on Friday, Finch said that “Billy Stanlake rolled over his ankle in warm-up”, which is why Nathan Coulter-Nile played. Mitchell Starc has been drafted into the squad for the final T20I and may feature at what is his home venue.
Possible Australia XI: 1 Aaron Finch (c), 2 D’Arcy Short, 3 Chris Lynn, 4 Glenn Maxwell, 5 Marcus Stoinis, 6 Alex Carey (wk), 7 Ben McDermott, 8 Andrew Tye, 9 Adam Zampa, 10 Jason Behrendorff, 11 Nathan Coulter-Nile/Mitchell Starc
India are unlikely to tinker with their playing XI from Friday.
Possible India 11: 1 Virat Kohli (c), 2 Rohit Sharma, 3 Shikhar Dhawan 4 KL Rahul, 5 Rishabh Pant (wk), 6 Dinesh Karthik, 7 Krunal Pandya, 8 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 9 Kuldeep Yadav, 10 Khaleel Ahmed, 11 Jasprit Bumrah
India will bank on their bowlers to repeat their performance in Melbourne. Australia bat quite deep, but if the likes of Finch and Stoinis, who can play within themselves and play a long innings, fall early, the Australian batting line-up might struggle to post a big total or chase whatever India set. Essentially, the battle between India’s bowling against the home team’s batting could prove decisive.