India registered a thrilling 6-wicket win over Australia in the 2nd T20I to clinch the 3-match series and extend their unbeaten streak in the format to 11 games.
The Men in Blue had a number of standout performers in the game, and captain Virat Kohli gushed in the post-match presentation over the complete display that his team put in.
India seem to be identifying the perfect playing XI, and a number of fringe players are stepping up to make a case to become regulars. This augurs well for the side, especially with T20 World Cups scheduled in each of the next two years.
Here are 3 positives for India from the 2nd T20I against Australia.
With two nineties in the 3-match ODI series, Hardik Pandya made a firm case for himself to not only be included as a specialist batsman but be promoted in the batting order as well.
But the T20 format is a different kettle of fish, as not having a sixth bowler can completely derail a team’s plans. With his 22-ball 42 in the 2nd T20I, Pandya added weight to his credentials as someone who is undroppable from the Indian team.
Although India would’ve loved to have an extra bowling option in the 1st T20I with Yuzvendra Chahal and Deepak Chahar leaking runs, they were vindicated in their decision to play the 27-year-old at No. 5. Pandya is turning out to be a real match-winner and finisher for his country, and even if he doesn’t bowl, he’ll be one of the first names on the teamsheet.
And when he does recover from his injury and is comfortable enough to bowl, India will be next to unbeatable.
Indian captain Virat Kohli expressed his pleasure at having sealed the T20I series without availing the services of two of their best white-ball players – Rohit Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah. While the limited-overs vice-captain is yet to recover from a hamstring injury he sustained in the Indian Premier League, the latter was rested after playing all three ODIs.
India’s depth in both departments was on full display in the 2nd T20I, as they had able backups in Deepak Chahar, Shardul Thakur and Shreyas Iyer to make up for the personnel they missed. Rohit and Bumrah have been colossal in the ODI and T20I formats over the last few years, and the ease with which India have won a series away from home will certainly please the team and their fans.
Although Australia themselves were a bit short-handed in the absence of David Warner and Pat Cummins, India more than proved themselves capable of beating any opposition even when not at full strength.
This will come as a shock to many given his exploits over the last few months in T20 cricket, but T Natarajan wasn’t even guaranteed to be part of the Sunrisers Hyderabad playing XI ahead of the Indian Premier League.
The left-armer made the most of the opportunities he got in the initial phase of India’s marquee T20 tournament, and played a massive role in the Orange Army’s run to Qualifier 2. Mere weeks later, Natarajan finds himself to be an important part of India’s plans in both white-ball formats.
He has picked up 5 wickets in the 2 T20Is he has played so far, apart from another 2 in the solitary ODI he has featured in for the country. Natarajan adds an extra edge to the Indian bowling attack, and hasn’t looked to be under any pressure at the international level as well.
The 29-year-old’s seamless step up to the international level is the biggest positive that India will draw from their series win, and this was highlighted by his performance in the 2nd T20I.