Australia v India Second T20I
Friday January 29, 7:38pm
Australia will be looking to square the series and force a decider when they travel to Melbourne to take on India in the second T20I on Friday.
Despite going into the match as warm favourites the Aussies were overwhelmed by 37 runs in Adelaide on Tuesday and will need to address a few key issues if they are to keep the series alive. Their bowling attack was taken to the cleaners with India racking up an impressive 3/188 from their 20 overs which could force wholesale changes to the hosts’ bowling unit. John Hastings, Scott Boland, Andrew Tye and Nathan Lyon will all be hoping for an opportunity at the MCG with Shaun Tait and Kane Richardson in the firing line after they both conceded more than 10 runs an over in the series opener. While the run chase started promisingly, the dismissal of captain Aaron Finch for 44 triggered a collapse of 8/62 as India’s spinners strangled the Australian middle and lower order.
The home side’s batting will be weakened by the loss of top-order pair David Warner and Steve Smith who are skipping the last two games in order to prepare for the New Zealand series, although that will be somewhat off-set by the return of Glenn Maxwell from injury. Shaun Marsh will also get the chance to impress at the top of the order, while inexperienced pair Chris Lynn and Travis Head should get another opportunity to prove that they can handle the step up to international level.
After their convincing performance at Adelaide the Indians are on the verge of their first T20I series win since October 2013 when they also defeated Australia in a one-off match in Rajkot. Virat Kohli continued his sublime form from the ODI series with a blistering 90 off 55 balls and was ably supported by Suresh Raina (41 off 34) in his first game of the tour. With the ball, spin-twins Ravi Ashwin and Ravi Jadeja combined for a game-changing 5/49 off eight overs, while unorthodox seamer Jasprit Bumrah picked up three wickets on debut.
The one concern for India’s bowling attack was the fifth bowler with Yuvraj Singh taken for ten off his solitary over, while youngster Hardik Pandya conceded 37 off a nervy three overs including an astonishing six wides. Either Yuvraj or Pandya could make way for Ajinkya Rahane, provided he has recovered from a hand injury, while India may also consider giving veteran Harbhajan Singh a game after the success of fellow spinners Ashwin and Jadeja at the Adelaide Oval.
The MCG has played host to eight T20 International fixtures and interestingly only two of eight first innings scores have reached 150. That stands in direct contrast to recent BBL matches at the ground where four out of six first innings totals exceeded 160. Provided he gets an opportunity homegrown quick Scott Boland should thrive on his home ground after averaging 14.67 with the ball at the MCG during the Big Bash.
Despite the loss in Adelaide, punters have faith that Australia can turn it around and have installed them as favourites with India unfancied despite an impressive all-round performance in game one.
As expected bat generally dominated the ball in the first match and I see this trend continuing although the hosts will be undoubtedly weakened by the loss of Warner and Smith. Furthermore the inability of the likes of Finch, Lynn and Head to score at a sufficient rate against India’s seasoned spinners is further cause for concern for the home side. Conversely the Indian trio of Kohli, Raina and Rohit Sharma are all in excellent touch and none were troubled either by the express pace of Tait or the variety of leg-spinner Cameron Boyce. The possible return of Rahane strengthens India’s batting even further, while there aren’t any bowlers that Australia can call on who will strike fear into the prolific Indian top-order.
The MCG shouldn’t hold any trepidation for the visitors either, having won two out of their past three matches at the MCG, while six of the current squad were part of the team that defeated Australia in a T20I here in 2012. I certainly can’t be having Australia at such a short price and am more than happy to back India at the current odds.