India will look to make in 9 wins on the trot in T20I cricket when they take on Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Sunday.
The Men in Blue, who currently hold a 1-0 lead in the 3-match series, haven’t been at their best since returning to international cricket. The batting department, especially the top order, is yet to fire, while they haven’t identified their best possible playing XI as well.
However, they’ll fancy their chances in the 2nd T20I against an injury-hit Australia. David Warner and Ashton Agar will miss the remainder of the series, while Aaron Finch and Marcus Stoinis are doubtful for the encounter.
As India look to seal the series, here are 3 mistakes that they can’t afford to make in the 2nd T20I against Australia.
With Pat Cummins rested, Australia opted to play with five frontline bowlers – Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc, Sean Abbott, Adam Zampa and Mitchell Swepson – in the 1st T20I. However, that left them significantly weakened in the batting department, and we could see Marnus Labuschagne or Alex Carey return to the playing XI for the 2nd T20I.
If this happens, the hosts will have to get four overs out of Moises Henriques and Glenn Maxwell (and Marcus Stoinis if he is fit). India can’t afford to let the fifth bowling option settle like they did in the 1st T20I, where Moises Henriques picked up a 3-wicket haul to make up for the struggles of Abbott and Hazlewood.
If Virat Kohli and his men take on Henriques, that might force the Aussie captain to bowl Maxwell, who has only right-handers to bowl to in the middle order in the absence of Ravindra Jadeja. If India make the most of Australia’s weakest bowling option, they will set themselves up for a big total (or a comfortable chase).
One of the biggest talking points from India’s playing XI for the 1st ODI was the exclusion of Shreyas Iyer. The Delhi Capitals skipper scored over 500 runs in the recently concluded edition of the Indian Premier League, and played a crucial role in India’s 5-0 T20I whitewash of New Zealand earlier this year.
Various experts such as Mohammad Kaif and Virender Sehwag have hit out at Iyer’s exclusion, and the 25-year-old does have a firm case to be brought back into the fold. His case is only strengthened by the fact that Manish Pandey and Sanju Samson scored a combined 25 runs in the 1st T20I.
However, India made a decision, and it would be unfair on Pandey and Samson if either of them are dropped. Kohli and the team management have been annoyingly trigger-happy in the recent past, and they can’t afford to make the same mistake they’ve continually made over the past few years.
While Iyer finds himself out due to little fault of his own, he’ll have to wait for at least another game before he can replace either Pandey or Samson.
Ravindra Jadeja has been ruled out of the remainder of the T20I series, and he’s all but guaranteed to be replaced by Yuzvendra Chahal. The leg-spinner will certainly add an attacking edge to India’s bowling lineup, but the move will greatly weaken the batting department.
Jadeja has bailed India out of trouble multiple times in the recent past with his contributions down the order, and he has made up for the failures of his top-order batsmen. Against Australia in the 2nd T20I, he won’t be there to save India’s blushes if they lose early wickets.
Shikhar Dhawan has looked a bit itchy in the powerplay throughout this tour, and he’ll have to take his time and get his eye in before attempting to go big. KL Rahul, who consolidated the innings in the 1st T20I after the wickets of Dhawan and Kohli, will have to persist with the same conservative approach.
Now a batsman short, India will have to keep wickets in hand and look to make the most of the death overs.