India’s much-awaited tour of Australia did not begin the way they would have hoped, and the visitors are likely to rejig their team combination as they reach Melbourne for a must-win second T20I on Friday, 23 November.
Australia went 1-0 up in the three-match series with a narrow, DLS-aided 4-run win in Brisbane, in the process ending a four-match winless run in the shortest format.
Virat Kohli’s unit arrived Down Under seeking an eighth successive bilateral series win in T20Is – for that to happen, they might need a reassessment of both their batting and bowling composition.
A Question of Balance for India
The safer all-round option of Krunal Pandya was India’s choice for the series opener – in no small part due to the batting cover he provides at number seven. That meant one of their primary wicket-taking options in T20Is over the last year, Yuzvendra Chahal, had to sit out.
On a grassy surface, Pandya was taken to the cleaners as he conceded 55 runs without making any dents in the Aussie batting lineup. With the bat, too, the elder Pandya failed to click on a night showcasing just how vital his younger brother Hardik is to India’s team balance.
Still, it might be a harsh call to drop a promising all-rounder four matches into his career – but the Indian think-tank could consider bringing Chahal back in place of Khaleel Ahmed, who fizzled off after taking a wicket of his first ball.
Tinkering with the batsmen is an unlikely event, although KL Rahul’s run of form after an unbeaten century in the first T20I against England in July – 98 runs in his last six innings – is a cause for concern.
Tactics, Fielding Come Into Question
While Rahul is unlikely to lose his spot in the XI, where he bats is an unresolved debate. Questions were raised about the decision to have Rahul bat above Kohli even with the asking rate continuously climbing, and that wasn’t all that the Indian skipper was questioned for.
The lack of opportunity Jasprit Bumrah got to have a crack at Chris Lynn and Glenn Maxwell – Australia’s leading scorers on the night – despite having had their number in the IPL perplexed many pundits.
India – and Kohli – weren’t helped by a rare off-day on the field either. The captain himself was guilty of dropping his counterpart Aaron Finch early on. In a game of small margins, avoidable errors, more often than not, prove costly.
Zampa Turns Australian Fortunes Around
A different Australia turned up to welcome India at the Gabba to the one that had been enduring a horror 2018 until then. Discounting wins over Zimbabwe and the UAE, Australia had won just twice across formats since being rocked by Tampergate in March.
It’s incredible what one good display can do: all of a sudden it appears consigned to the back-burners, and another free-spirited showing on Friday will hand them a series win whose galvanising effect could be seismic.
Key to their fortunes in quelling India’s top batsmen in the run-chase was Adam Zampa, who accounted for both Rahul and Kohli in quick succession to decisively turn the game in the favour of the hosts.
Barring fitness concerns, Finch should persist with the XI that got him the win on Wednesday.
India: Virat Kohli (capt), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Manish Pandey, Shreyas Iyer, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Rishabh Pant, Krunal Pandya, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Khaleel Ahmed, Washington Sundar.
Australia: Aaron Finch (capt), Ashton Agar, Jason Behrendorff, Alex Carey, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Chris Lynn, Ben McDermott, Glenn Maxwell, D'Arcy Short, Billy Stanlake, Marcus Stoinis, Andrew Tye, Adam Zampa.
. Read more on Cricket by The Quint.RSS & BJP’s Nehru-Netaji ‘Cosplay’: Irony Dies a Thousand DeathsSmarting India Seek Quick Turnaround for 2nd T20I vs Australia . Read more on Cricket by The Quint.