A dominant India now eye another series win when they take on a faltering Australia in the second Twenty20 International at Guwahati on Tuesday. The ACA-Barsapara Stadium will be making its international debut, adding to the growing list of cricket venues in the country. India routed Australia by nine wickets in the rain-hit opening match on Saturday at Ranchi to take a 1-0 lead.
India enjoy an excellent head-to-head record against the visitors, having won 10 and lost four out of the 14 matches played. With Saturday’s win, the hosts have won seven matches in a row, and they have not lost to Australia in T20I match since September 28, 2012. Unraveling the mystery of India’s wrist spin duo of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal – who have shared 16 wickets between them in six matches – will go a long way in boosting Australia’s chances.
Australia have failed to read the duo’s variations and looked inept in exploiting the conditions. The Indian team members are complementing each other well across departments and the Ranchi match was a case in point. Kuldeep and Chahal put the brakes on the scoring after pacers Jasprit Bumrah and Hardik Pandya leaked boundaries early on.
The Australian batting has mostly revolved around the top three of Warner, Finch and Steve Smith. With the skipper ruled out of the series with a shoulder injury, they have their task cut out. A lot hinges on Glenn Maxwell coming back to form. The big-hitting Victorian has had registered modest scores of of 39, 14, 5 in the ODIs, and 17 in the opening T20I.
That all his dismissals have come against Chahal underlines the all-rounder’s inability to tackle leg-spin. His team, though, is backing him fully. “We’ve seen him be so dominant, so destructive of attacks in these conditions before. I don’t think he’s far away at all. He’s hitting the ball in the nets, he’s up and about in the field,” Finch was quoted as saying by PTI. It would also be interesting to see how Finch tackles Yadav this time. In Ranchi, he chose to play a barrage of sweep shots before being cleaned up by the left-arm spinner with a fuller delivery.
Nathan Coulter-Nile, who, with 10 wickets was the highest wicket-taker in the ODI series, has been the silver-lining for Australia while left-arm pacer Jason Behrendorff also showed promise in his debut in Ranchi. Australia pin their hopes on their pace duo to rock the Indian batting line-up, which had little match practice in a six-over contest in Ranchi.
Indian opener Shikhar Dhawan returned to the team in Ranchi after opting out of the ODI series and showed glimpses of good touch with a couple of classy boundaries during the run chase. The southpaw’s seamless comeback also means that the in-form Ajinkya Rahane may continue to sit of the shortest format of the game.
The pitch may throw up a surprise or two. The ACA-Barsapara Stadium made headlines in the last Ranji season when Hyderabad bowled out Himachal Pradesh for 36, the fourth-lowest total in the Ranji Trophy since 2000.
India: Virat Kohli (c), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Manish Pandey, MS Dhoni, Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Ashish Nehra, Dinesh Karthik, KL Rahul and Axar Patel.
Australia: David Warner (c), Jason Behrendorff, Dan Christian, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Aaron Finch, Travis Head, Moises Henriques, Glenn Maxwell, Tim Paine, Kane Richardson, Adam Zampa, Marcus Stoinis, Andrew Tye.