India embarks on this tour. Victory in the last ODI and the opening T20I means there’s a little spring in their stride as they return to Sydney for the last two cue-ball games before the focus switches firmly to the Test series, although as these games take place the SCG Test prep will take place for others against Australia A in town at Drummoyne Oval.
It was a great return from India in the opening game. From a position where they appeared to be struggling to post 140 for Ravindra Jadeja’s late bout, who has since been banned from the series with the concussion that prompted Yuzvendra Chahal to take his decisive role with the ball.
In the chase, Australia was well placed at 72 for 1, but Steven Smith and Glenn Maxwell fell in consecutive overs and not for the first time revealed a lack of hitting power in the order, although India’s bowlers exploited a pitch that more began to hold as the game progressed.
Given the condensed nature of this tour, there will be some more juggling with players. Australia has released Cameron Green to join Australia’s A squad, but Mitchell Swepson will remain with the T20I group after his quick call-up following Ashton Agar’s injury. With Australia potentially missing up to six players, who would likely be the first choice players in their T20 XI – captain Aaron Finch was waiting for results on scans on Saturday after suffering a hip or buttock injury in Canberra – this feels like a good opportunity for India to claim the series.
ALSO WATCH: Natarajan’s three-for on T20I debut (Indian subcontinent only)
Last five games completed
India WWT (Super Won) T (Super Won) W.
In the spotlight
After two substandard ODIs, Mitchell Starc looked much more like his usual self in his first two overs in the first T20I, and found a late swing including the sharp outswinger that Shikhar Dhawan couldn’t get close to. His last two overs went for 23, but it was his 90 mph short ball that shot Jadeja into his helmet for a concussion. Now that he’s out of the remaining T20Is *, Australia’s number 8 spot is up for grabs for which they can bring in Andrew Tye, who hasn’t played international cricket for over two years, or the limitless Daniel Sams, who was the BBL’s lead wicket-taker last season and will be a more like-for – like replacement with his left arm pace.
ALSO WATCH: Starc uproots Dhawan’s off stump (Indian Subcontinent only)
Considering how he got out and dominated, everything was about Chahal, but Washington Sundar‘s performance with the ball was also essential to India’s victory. He threw his four overs for 16, including 13 dots, propelling the ball to the surface with Australian batsmen struggling to connect with straight-bat or cross-bat shots.
Finch remains questionable, and if he misses it would require a change of captaincy, with Matthew Wade likely stepping in. It would also need reinforcement for the batting and would likely see Wade open with D’Arcy Short, which could create a vacancy for Alex Carey to return in the middle order. Nathan Lyon has been called up to the squad and could challenge for Swepson’s spot to counterbalance Adam Zampa’s leg spin. Josh Hazlewood has played all matches with the cue ball so far, so he may need a rest. With Starc from the remaining T20Is, Australia could choose either Andrew Tye or Daniel Sams.
Australia (possibly) 1 Aaron Finch / D’Arcy Short, 2 Matthew Wade, 3 Steven Smith, 4 Glenn Maxwell, 5 Moises Henriques, 6 Alex Carey (wk), 7 Sean Abbott, 8 Andrew Tye / Daniel Sams, 9 Mitchell Swepson / Nathan Lyon, 10 Adam Zampa, 11 Josh Hazlewood
This time, Jadeja will have to be replaced from the start and Chahal’s performance makes him the natural option, although it weakens the at bat considerably. Manish Pandey didn’t have his best day out at number 5 with 2 of 8 balls in Canberra. India may decide to rotate Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah.
India (probably) 1 Shikhar Dhawan, 2 KL Rahul, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Sanju Samson, 5 Manish Pandey / Shreyas Iyer, 6 Hardik Pandya, 7 Washington Sundar, 8 Deepak Chahar, 9 T Natarajan, 10 Jasprit Bumrah / Mohammed Shami, 11 Yuzvendra chahal
Location and conditions
The surfaces were flat, very flat, for the two ODIs, although some of the bowlers in India have found their rhythm since those games. The forecast is for a dry, mild evening.
ALSO LOOK: Henriques picks up three major wickets (Indian subcontinent only)
Statistics and trivia
In the opening game of the series, Moises Henriques threw his entire quota of four into a T20 for the first time since February 2017.
India are unbeaten in their last ten T20Is, a run with one clear and two draws, which they then won in Super Overs against New Zealand.
Two years ago, India chased the SCG 165 to level the series.
“I think two leg spinners are fine. You’ve seen the impact legspin has had on the T20 format in pretty much all competitions; the BBL, IPL, international cricket, there are a lot of leg spinners that have a lot of impact. either way creates doubts for the batsman. That’s where I think leg spinners have that advantage in the T20 format. “
“The field (in the first T20I) was thrilling, so I decided I wouldn’t be flying it for them, throwing fast fractures like the Australian spinners had in the ODIs.”
*The preview was updated after Mitchell Starc was withdrawn from the squad