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India out to clinch series on Guwahati’s T20I debut



Australia may not have expected to turn up and blow India away across the limited-overs leg of their tour but, a month in, many of their worst fears for the tour have been realised. Not only are they struggling for confidence having won just a solitary international game, they’ve had to ship out talisman and leader Steven Smith with a shoulder issue with a little over a month to go for the Ashes.

On evidence of their performance in Ranchi, the T20Is don’t promise much but, as is always the case in life and sports, there remains a little chasm of opportunity to unearth a silver lining out of this largely forgettable tour. Maybe a shift in setting will do them good. India’s ostensible home advantage may be diminished slightly at the new Barsapara Stadium in the country’s north-east. The venue’s international debut may start both teams on a slightly even keel with regards to familiarity with on-field conditions.

Then there’s the T20 format, which often bridges gaps in quality between teams. It is no surprise that when the first T20I was further shortened to a six-over chase, Australia came closest to claiming an unlikely victory. But India barely rode out of second gear on Saturday and still made their visitors look pedestrian. In what is slowly becoming a pattern under Virat Kohli, this empowerment of bowlers to setup wins has opened up a new dimension to their cricket.

In Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar, Kuldeep and Chahal – the hosts have four very shrewd operators to get 16 overs out of. But Australia must believe they can still upset the apple-cart and keep the series alive, if they play the percentages well and milk the fifth bowler tactfully. That could make India veer away from their patterns and take this matchup to a new avenue.

Given how Australia have batted on the tour and in the last game, it is hard to imagine that they are in possession of the top-two individual scores (Aaron Finch 156, Glenn Maxwell 145*) and two of the top-three totals in T20I history. It is perhaps time to set out and regain some of the lost reputation, to prove they are still very much a force in the 20-overs format.

When: India vs Australia, 2nd T20I, October 10, 19:00 IST; 13:30 GMT

Where: ACA Barsapara Cricket Stadium, Guwahati

What to expect: Spinners have had much more success at this venue than the pacers, including three of the best four bowling figures in first class cricket. However, seamers like Mohit Sharma and Basil Thampi had particularly noteworthy games in last year’s Ranji Trophy. The curator Mukut Kalita is hopeful his surface will have something for everyone on its international debut. Guwahati experienced rains in the afternoon on the eve of the match but the ground’s drainage facility, touted to be one of the best in the country, should ensure not much of play is lost in the event of an interruption.

Team News:
With another series on the line, India are likely to resist making any change. The hosts barely got an opportunity to assess their batting, which may still lack a little ‘x-factor’ to keep pace with the likes of West Indies and England in T20 format. While the composition of batsmen may not be changed, they might consider adding a little insurance for their fifth bowler – Hardik Pandya – by bringing in now-T20 specialist Ashish Nehra or an additional spinner (Axar Patel). Hardik recovered well after conceding 23 in his first two overs, but on a more benign surface, India’s bowling line-up could get found out.

Probable XI: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli(c), Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya, MS Dhoni(wk), Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Yuzvendra Chahal.


One of the perks of naming a 13-man squad is that there is only so much to do in the name of personnel tinkering. Marcus Stoinis (Steve Smith’s replacement) was just scheduled to fly all the way back to India only two days out from the game, but given his show of promise against the spinning ball in the ODIs, could be drafted straight into the XI. Australia understand that the demands of a No.3 batsman will alternate between attack and consolidation but appear to be willing to give the misfiring Glenn Maxwell a longer rope in the T20 format in the hope that the Victorian can shake off his Chahal hoodoo and find the enterprise of old. The visitors are also impressed by what Jason Behrendorff, the left-armer, can bring to the table and hope to uncover his full potential in a non-shortened game.

Probable XI: David Warner(c), Aaron Finch, Glenn Maxwell, Travis Head, Moises Henriques/Marcus Stoinis, Daniel Christian, Tim Paine(wk), Nathan Coulter-Nile, Jason Behrendorff, Andrew Tye, Adam Zampa

Did you know?

– The Barsapara Stadium in Guwahati will be the 49th Indian venue to host an international match.

– India have beaten Australia in seven matches in a row now. Only one team has had a longer winning streak against a particular opponent – Pakistan have won all their nine T20I encounters against Zimbabwe.

– In the six matches they’ve played against each other in 2017 across formats, Yuzuvendra Chahal has dismissed Glenn Maxwell on five occasions.

What they said:

“It’s very important to keep talking to senior players. These guys have played so much cricket. They’re legends in their field. If you gain even some experience, then your career will benefit.”

– Kuldeep Yadav on the influence of two Australians, Shane Warne and Brad Hogg, on his development.

“I wouldn’t say I’m short of confidence. I think the pressure on you amplifies a little bit to get more runs when you are out of form”

– Glenn Maxwell is confident of turning around his bad run of form.

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