India vs. Australia, T20I series: A review
Indian cricket team, led by Virat Kohli, made a strong comeback in the shortest cricket format after a failed ODI campaign Down Under. Kohli and his men won the first two T20Is to seal the 3-match series. They dominated, won, and got back the confidence they required ahead of the much-anticipated Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
Moreover, the visitors recorded their 10th consecutive in the format after registering a win in the second T20I. India went on to surpass Pakistan’s record of nine T20I wins on a trot in 2018.
Unfortunately, the Indians failed to win the series finale at Sydney and could not extend their winning streak in T20Is. That did not hurt their cause much, and the third match of the series was a dead rubber for the visitors.
The absence of Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah definitely helped the hosts, but there were a couple of aspects apart from that Indians need to look at. Australians were also without their preferred bowling trio and the devastating David Warner. The home side needs to work on their back up options to do well in the upcoming T20I World Cup.
Indian team batting
Despite winning the T20I series 2-1, there was a major crack in the Indian cricket team. It was the middle order. The openers clicked, especially KL Rahul. Shikhar Dhawan emerged as a player to watch out for in the shortest format of the game.
Since the 13th edition of the Indian Premier League, Dhawan has been in tremendous form in the T20s. However, he failed in the first match of the series and then came back stronger to register a fine 52 in just 36 balls in the second game. Chasing a stiff 195, this was much needed from the batter opening the innings.
Even in the last match, Dhawan looked good with a 21-ball 28 runs when KL Rahul was dismissed for a duck. KL Rahul once again proved to be a dependent bat for the side in the T20 format. Rahul started with 40-ball 51 in the first fixture, scored 30 runs off 22 deliveries in the second one before failing in the final match.
After a disappointing first game, Virat Kohli smashed 24-ball 40 and 61-ball 85 runs in the last two games. The skipper mentioned the comebacks in the post-match conference as well, “We came back nicely and showed belief.”
Whereas the top order was delivered on most occasions, the middle order failed to show any consistency. Sanju Samson got starts but failed to convert and got out in crucial situations repetitively.
However, Hardik Pandya was in great form, and his unbeaten 42 off 22 balls helped India win the second match and series. He and India’s other all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja helped India win the first two matches and grab the series. Shreyas Iyer and Manish Pandey got their chances but failed to capitalize.
Indian team bowling
There’s no doubt that the debutant T Natarajan was the series’s standout performer among the bowlers. Even Kohli could not stop praising Natarajan. “Special mention for Natarajan, in the absence of (Mohammed) Shami and Jasprit (Bumrah), he stood out and really delivered under pressure.” It was never an easy task for a newcomer, but the hardworking, composed Tamil Nadu lad impressed all.
He picked up six wickets, conceding 82 runs in three games. His famous yorkers kept troubling the Aussie batters in the middle. What was extraordinary to watch was the debutant’s maturity in the absence of the unit’s experienced ones.
The way India won the series opener created quite a buzz. Yuzvendra Chahal entered as the concussion sub for Ravindra Jadeja in the second half of the match and went on to win the match.
He picked up three wickets for just 25 runs in his four overs. He cemented his place in the playing eleven but was not at par in the remaining games. But the inclusion of Chahal alongside Washington Sundar in the combination definitely gives Indian management a new variety. Sundar had a fantastic series and two wickets in 12 overs for 85 runs in the series.
Deepak Chahar did his job pretty well except of the second match. With many options, Kohli could fancy trying quite a few combinations before the World Cup scheduled for next year.
Australian team batting
For Australia, the wicket-keeper batsman Matthew Wade made the biggest impression in the series. After failing in the first match batting at number 6, Wade got an opportunity to lead his nation and open the second match as Aaron Finch was out.
He lost his first game as captain but grabbed those opportunities to bat at the top of the order by both hands and scored two entertaining fifties in the last two T20Is. His 53-ball 80 was a special innings in the third T20I. It will be interesting to see how the Australian T20 side looks when David Warner returns from injury and expects to regain his opener’s slot.
Another star for Australia was Glenn Maxwell, who truly put his failure in IPL behind and sparkled for Australia. The big-hitter scored 78 runs off 52 balls in the series and hit five sixes and three fours to provide the Aussie middle order’s required momentum.
Steve Smith also played a couple of key knocks, 46 off 38 in the second T20I and 24 off 23 in the third T20I. But he could not force the issue and maintained a strike rate below 120 in the series. D’Arcy Short was a failure for Australia as he could not utilize the chances given and failed to cement his spot in the eleven.
Interestingly when India celebrated a young fast bowler’s success in this series, the hosts must be really pleased by their young leg spinner’s performance. Mitchell Swepson picked up five wickets in the series, and his 3 for 23 in the third T20I was a match-winning spell that rightly helped him get the man-of-the-match.
Against a second-string Australian bowling line up, Indian batsmen batted more comfortably against the pacers and faced more problems against the leg-spin duo of Swepson and Adam Zampa. With their success in this series, Australia will look forward to continuing their ‘two leg-spinners’ strategy in the upcoming T20 matches leading up to the T20I World Cup next year.
Australian selectors decided to rest Pat Cummins for all three matches in the series, whereas Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood only played the first match. In the absence of their pace spearheads, Australian selectors tested youngsters like Sean Abbott, Daniel Sams, and Andrew Tye.
The pacers bowled with limited success and could not stop the Indian top order from dominating the game. However, this was a great opportunity for them to build the bench strength, and they must have been really happy with the consolation victory in the third T20I.
Moises Henriques also delivered a good performance in the second T20I with the ball and finished with three scalps for 22 runs. Australia can continue with him in the limited-overs format as one of the middle order batting all-rounders.