India stormed to an emphatic victory in the First T20I against Australia, winning by nine wickets in a heavily rain-affected contest. Australia, who were put in to bat by Kohli, collapsed from 55-1 to a below-par 118-8 when the rain came. The Duckworth-Lewis System was used and India’s revised target was 48 off six overs, which they chased with three balls in hand. Australia struggled against India’s wrist spinners in the middle overs, with Kuldeep Yadav taking 2-16 in his four overs, supported by Jaspirit Bumrah’s 2-17. Both sides will be looking to make changes to their sides ahead of the Second T20I at Guwahati on Tuesday.
Pitch and Weather Conditions
Unfortunately, the weather could play another important role in the Second T20I. The forecast is for rain all week in Guwahati, but there is a slight break in the deluge on Tuesday afternoon and evening. Hopefully the rain will not play too great a part and we can get a full game in. This will be the first ever international game to be played in the Barsapara Stadium and it is hard to predict how the pitch will play there. The rain could produce a slower outfield and the pitch is likely to be dry after being under covers for so long.
Should India Make Any Team Changes?
India are currently in superb limited overs form, having lost only one game in their last 12 matches. They have found a well-balanced team combination, hinging mainly on Hardik Pandya’s pivotal rule as a fast-bowling all-rounder. Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jaspirit Bumrah have been excellent with the new ball and at the death, picking up wickets while keeping tight economy rates. In terms of their seam attack, India should look to stick with this combination for Tuesday. There has been talk of Ashish Nehra being picked, but it is likely that he will not be playing cricket for much longer, due to his constant body pains as a result of his age. The 38 year old has represented India over 150 times, but it is time that India look ahead to the future. It was therefore surprising to see his inclusion in the squad ahead of promising young seamer Shardul Thakur, who is yet to represent his country.
If India’s selectors want to vary their bowling attack slightly, it could be the case that left-arm spinner Axar Patel gets the nod ahead of Yuzvendra Chahal. Axar missed the first three ODIs against Australia after picking up an ankle injury, but looked in great form when he took 3/38 in the final ODI. Chahal has been in excellent form as well, but India may look to bring a greater diversity to their spin attack and break up their pairing of two wrist spinners. Kuldeep Yadav has recently proven himself to be one of the best young spinners in the world, and it would be interesting to see how he bowls in tandem with Axar.
In terms of their batting, India’s top order did not have much of an opportunity to find form in their six over chase and so it is likely that they will stick with the same top order. However, India have not yet answered the dilemma of how to fit Lokesh Rahul into their side. Usually an opener, Rahul has routinely found himself being left out of the Indian side but he has proven himself to be one of the most destructive T20 batsmen, in both the IPL and in previous T20Is for India. It could be the case that India stick with the favoured opening combination of Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma, but it may be possible for Rahul to take Manish Pandey’s spot at four.
What Can Australia Do To Bounce Back?
It is hard to pinpoint what triggered Australia’s batting collapse, but every batsman looked uncomfortable against India’s wrist spinners and when there was pace taken off the ball. Aaron Finch was the only batsman who truly got going, as he hit a quick 42, but only two other Aussies managed to reach double digits. They were clearly hurt by Steve Smith’s absence, and the inclusion of Dan Christian to provide extra experience didn’t work. Due to the small nature of their squad, Australia do not have much depth at the moment and it would be hard to see what changes they could consider making. However, many fans have called for the inclusion of Marcus Stoinis for the next T20I. Stoinis could help bolster their middle order and would provide a direct replacement for Dan Christian. Other than that one change, it is unlikely that Australia will change anything else.
Australia will be hoping to bowl first in the next T20I, unless the pitch strongly favours the batting side. At the moment, it is fair to say that Australia’s strength lies in their seam attack and they have been routinely let down by their batsmen. Their best chance of winning is to limit India to a low total and try to chase it, as they do not seem to be capable of scoring freely off India’s bowling attack. An obvious weakness in their batting has been the way that they have treated their wrist spinners, and it may be the case that their middle order takes a more cautious approach to playing Kuldeep. It is hard to see Australia coming back to win the series, but they will definitely look to build up lots of momentum ahead of the crucial upcoming Ashes series.