With the adrenaline of victory still to settle, India is embarking on a battle to put the dust on the long wait for World Cup 2019.
It is a clash of second ranked India and fifth ranked team, Australia. Head to head, India has played Australia on 16 occasions. The Men in Blue have won 10 of those whereas the Baggy Greens have won five. The remaining one game was abandoned due to adverse weather conditions
India has won three series and Australia has won only one T20I series. So, unlike Tests and ODIs, India edges out Australia in overall T20I results. I am confident that the Australian think tank is aware of such statistics and must be hoping to reverse the tide by winning the T20I series.
India T20I Squad:
Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli(c), Lokesh Rahul, Rishabh Pant, Dinesh Karthik, MS Dhoni, Krunal Pandya, Vijay Shankar, Siddarth Kaul, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Yuzvendra Chahal, Mayank Markande
Australia T20I Squad:
Aaron Finch(c), Alex Carey, Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, D Arcy Short, Marcus Stoinis, Pat Cummins, Glenn Maxwell, Jhye Richardson, Kane Richardson, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Peter Handscomb, Jason Behrendorff, Nathan Lyon, Ashton Turner, Adam Zampa
It is surprising to note that both Indians and Australians aren’t ranked very well by the ICC in the bowling and all-rounder departments. In batting Rohit, KL Rahul and Dhawan are Ranked seven, 10 and 11 respectively. It is surprising to find Virat at the 19th rank.
From Australia, Finch and Maxwell find themselves at third and fifth rank respectively. In bowling Kuldeep, Chahal and Bhuvaneshwar find themselves at the ranks of two,17 and 18 respectively. Bumrah the best T20I bowler finds himself at no. 27. From Australia Zampa, Stanlake and Tye find themselves at the ranks of six, 13 and 15 respectively.
It is really surprising to note the omission of Kuldeep, Bhuvaneshwar, Tye and Stanlake from their teams. Tye was the highest wicket taker in IPL 2018 and his omission represents a conundrum. Similarly, India is not taking Australia very seriously as Kuldeep is a proven match winner. They’re probably more confident of winning in home conditions so they dropped him for T20I series.
Absence of Pandya is a big blow but India’s strong batting line up can be a handful for any attack. Kohli, Dhawan, Rohit and Rahul can chase any score and in case of some setbacks Pant and Dhoni can do the rearguard action.
In bowling, inexperience of Siddharth Kaul, Mayank and Krunal can prove to be the cause of setbacks. Umesh is still an enigma, he can get wickets on one day and on the other day he leaks runs. So, bowling is centered around Chahal and Bumrah, and this can prove to be the weak link.
The tall bowlers like Pat Cummins, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Jason Behrendorff and Richardson can trouble on any surface by bouncing the ball more than usual. In the all-rounder front Maxwell, Stoinis and D’Arcy Short can prove to be assets.
Lack of quality spinners, however, will prove to be a handicap. Indian pitches are not conducive to bounce and this can neutralize the pace of Australia. In the batting department, Australia has many questions to answer. Finch is not performing. Khawaja,Short and Handscomb are too inexperienced to combat Indian conditions.
Absence of Chris Lynn and Andrew Tye has astounded every one and this may prove to be nemesis and selectors will need to answer the same.
24th February: Dr. Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy ACA-VDCA Cricket Stadium
This is the second T20I match at this venue. This is known for lush outfield and low bounce. Scores will be of 150-170 in first innings and second innings will be a nightmare. The team which will win the toss is most likely to win the match.
Skiddy pacers and spinners will be in control of this match. For reference, in 2016, India played Sri Lanka in 1st T20 at this venue. In the second innings Ashwin took four wickets for eight runs and bundled out Sri Lanka for 83.
So, if India bats first, then India is going to win comfortably. In case India bats second, they will still win due to their batting strength.
27th February: M. Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru
A batting paradise. Score of 200+ is possible. It will be a pulsating affair. It is surprising to note that India has won only two T20I matches at this venue and their win percentage is only 40%. So, this match will be depending on crucial knocks or miraculous bowling. For this match, I will keep it equal chances for each team.
Final Prediction of the series
India is winning this series either 2-0 or drawing 1-1. For Australia, this will be a learning lesson and their new crop bowlers will gain from this experience. T20Is are festive, a saying has proved to be false. It is as much a sport as a Test or ODI. Let’s pray for a rain-free competitive series and enjoy the maestros at work.