After a rare batting collapse in Visakhapatnam where they slipped from 69/2 to 109/7, India will be keen on getting their mojo back in a bid to square the two-match Twenty20 International series in Bangalore on Wednesday (February 27).
It was a scratchy effort from the Indians in the first T20I with only KL Rahul seemingly in some flow during his 36-ball 50. Barring him and Virat Kohli, not one Indian batsman could manage a strike-rate of over a 100 as the hosts were restricted to 126/7 from their 20 overs.
The bowlers did their best to get the side back into the game taking it to the last over but the visitors eked out a win off the last ball.
Having said that, the surface in Visakhapatnam wasn't the best for batting as was evidenced in the second innings as well. That is likely going to change in Bangalore with the pitch at M Chinnaswamy Stadium considered one of the most batsman-friendly turfs in the country.
The other key aspect which will help the Indians in their pursuit of squaring the series is their experience of playing in Bangalore. KL Rahul, who hails from Karnataka knows the ins and outs of the surface here while Virat Kohli has been leading the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL for some time. Leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal too has been associated with the RCB franchise since 2014 and knows how to contain batsmen on a ground that's small in dimensions.
As far the batting department is concerned, India had given Shikhar Dhawan a rest in the first outing and it remains to be seen whether he will return to the fold in Bangalore especially with the series on the line. Rishabh Pant will be itching to perform after getting out cheaply on Sunday, and so will be Dinesh Karthik who has a point to prove after being left out of the ODI series that follows the T20s.
All eyes will be on Mahendra Singh Dhoni too whose strike-rate once again was the talking point after the first T20I where he scored only 26 runs in 37 balls. India had a ridiculously long tail in Visakhapatnam with Umesh Yadav coming in as early as No.8. The hosts might look to bring in all-rounder Vijay Shankar to beef-up the batting department.
On the bowling front, India seem a settled unit with Jasprit Bumrah leading the way. Debutant Mayank Markande was impressive though he did not pick a wicket so was Krunal Pandya who had impressive returns of 1/17 from four overs. The only change India might look at is replacing Umesh with Siddharth Kaul.
Australia, on the other hand, after a morale-boosting win in the first T20I will very much want to seal the series in Bangalore. They haven't had much success against India in recent times having lost the ODI and Test series to them at home but having started off the series with a hard-earned win they will be keen to not release their foot off the pedal.
That was a sentiment resonated by Australia's wicketkeeper-batsman Peter Handscomb as well. "To beat India in India in a T20 match with a crowd like that ... the boys take a lot of confidence from that," he said on Monday.
It wasn't a smooth ride for the visitors in the first T20I though for the most part, they looked to be cruising. Chasing 127, Australia were comfortably placed on 89/2 with Glenn Maxwell and D'Arcy Short making things look easy. But once both fell, a dramatic collapse ensued which saw them slip to 113/7. Ultimately needing 14 from the last over, bowled by Umesh, Pat Cummins and Jhye Richardson kept their cool to take the side home.
It will be collapses such as these that Australia will have to be wary of. The surface is likely to be much better in Bangalore and that will make the batsmen's task easier.
While Short and Maxwell look in good touch, Aaron Finch, a key component in Australia's batting unit, will want to put his run of poor scores against India behind him. With a slightly inexperienced middle-order, it will upto the likes of Finch and Maxwell to show the way.
The bowling as usual stood out with Nathan Coulter-Nile, Jason Behrendorff and Pat Cummins all doing a fair job. Adam Zampa also had decent returns but he will have to be careful in Bangalore where shorter boundaries might bring about his undoing.
India do not have the best of T20I records in Bangalore. They have won three and lost two T20Is at the M Chinnaswamy stadium though they will take heart from the fact that the two wins have come in their last two fixtures at the venue. The conditions in Bangalore are expected to be partly cloudy during the game, but there is no threat of rain.
India: Virat Kohli (c), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Rishabh Pant, Dinesh Karthik, MS Dhoni, Krunal Pandya, Vijay Shankar, Siddarth Kaul, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Yuzvendra Chahal, Mayank Markande.
Australia: Aaron Finch (c), Alex Carey, Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, D'Arcy Short, Marcus Stoinis, Pat Cummins, Glenn Maxwell, Jhye Richardson, Kane Richardson, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Peter Handscomb, Jason Behrendorff, Nathan Lyon, Ashton Turner, Adam Zampa.
First Published: February 26, 2019, 7:49 PM IST