India extended their T20I winning streak to 9 with an 11-run victory over Australia in the 1st T20I at the Manuka Oval in Canberra. The hosts, who have lost two games on the trot at the venue, will welcome a return to the Sydney Cricket Ground for the 2nd T20I.
The series is on the line for Australia, who will miss David Warner and Ashton Agar due to injuries. The fitness of Marcus Stoinis and captain Aaron Finch is also under the scanner, and the Aussies might be forced into fielding a completely new-look team for the 2nd T20I.
Despite the changes that seem inevitable, a number of frontline players will battle it out on Sunday. Here are 3 individual player battles to watch out for in the 2nd T20I between India and Australia.
Glenn Maxwell was the star of Australia’s ODI series win against India as he put in telling contributions lower down the order in each of the three games. In the 1st T20I, however, the all-rounder was deceived by the left-arm angle of T Natarajan and fell for just 2.
Maxwell came in at No. 4 in the previous game, and we could see him move down the order. This would pit him against Natarajan again, this time at the death. The 29-year-old is an experienced bowler at the fag end of innings, and his ability to hit the yorker consistently will be severely tested by Maxwell and Co.
The outcome of this mini-battle could decide the fate of the 2nd T20I between India and Australia.
The leg-spinner is all but guaranteed to be brought into the playing XI in place of the injured Jadeja, and he’ll be up against Steve Smith once again. To add more intrigue to this battle, Chahal is only one wicket away from equalling Jasprit Bumrah as India’s leading wicket-taker in T20I cricket.
There has been some speculation that Smith could be handed captaincy of the team for the first time since the ball tampering scandal due to an injury to Aaron Finch. If this happens, it will only increase the importance of this player battle, which pits one of the smartest bowlers in the world against one of the best players of spin in the world.
Indian skipper Virat Kohli hasn’t been at his assertive best in the recent past, and his woes have been compounded by a supposed lack of ease against wrist-spin. Australia, who are likely to field Adam Zampa and Mitchell Swepson in the playing XI, will be up against a man who has a lot to prove.
Kohli was dismissed for 9 by Swepson in the previous game, but he might be more worried about Zampa, who has sent him back to the pavilion on a number of occasions. The wily 28-year-old has held the wood over the Indians in general with his unerring accuracy and potent googlies, and India will need their captain to safely negotiate the threat.
Kohli’s battle with Zampa might have been overshadowed in the recent past by his struggles against Josh Hazlewood, but we could see another instalment of a riveting contest in the 2nd T20I.