An incredible cameo with the bat from Hardik Pandya sealed a series win for India with one game left to play. The Indians required 46 off the last four overs for victory, and Pandya made himself the hero smashing an unbeaten 42 off 22 balls to get India across the line with two balls to spare. With four of Australia’s first choice pace bowlers out in Cummins, Starc, Hazlewood and Richardson, the inexperienced Australian pace attack once again failed to close out with the ball. AJ Tye (1/47), Daniel Sams (1/41) and Sean Abbott (0/17 off two overs) all went the journey as Australia failed to capitalise on a winning position late in the game. In a big positive for Australia Mitchell Swepson was the pick of the bowlers with 1/25, showing Australia has got some serious spin bowling options in white ball cricket.
Whilst Dhawan (52), Pandya (42) and Kohli (40) were the stars with the bat, it was once again Thangarasu Natarajan who produced a crucial performance with the ball, taking 2/20 off his four overs. Natarajan’s spell kept Australia’s score to a chaseable total as his teammates all went the journey with Chahar (0/48), Sundar (0/35), Thakur (1/39) and Chahal (1/51). Whilst the batsmen will take the headlines in the victory, without Natarajan’s incredible spell the Indian’s would have been chasing well in excess of 200 runs.
Aaron Finch will return for Australia, likely replacing D’arcy Short who has struggled in his two innings so far in the series. Australia played five all-rounders (excluding Stoinis who couldn’t bowl) and it has created some troubles with its batting stocks. Alex Carey could come into the side to strengthen the batting line up, and provide some real stability. Given the series is already over and the injury concerns that the Aussies have faced, expect to see Australia continue with the inexperienced bowling attack that has struggled, as they look to keep their Test stars ready for the Test series which starts next Thursday. Likewise for India, don’t expect to see Bumrah play in game three with the series already wrapped up.
Australia vs India 3rd T20I Preview & Tips
3rd T20I, Tuesday 8th December, SCG, 7:10pm AEDT
Australian Squad: Aaron Finch (c), Sean Abbott, Alex Carey, Josh Hazlewood, Moises Henriques, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Glenn Maxwell, Daniel Sams, D'Arcy Short, Steven Smith, Marcus Stoinis, Mitchell Swepson, Andrew Tye, Matthew Wade, Adam Zampa
Indian Squad: Virat Kohli (c), Shikhar Dhawan, Mayank Agarwal, KL Rahul, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya, Sanju Samson, Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Navdeep Saini, Deepak Chahar, T Natarajan, Shardul Thakur
The Aussie batsmen were excellent led by Matthew Wade (58) and Steve Smith (46). Whilst Maxwell, Henriques and Stoinis played handy cameos to put together an impressive 5/194. The improvements against the spin bowling of Chahal and Sundar from game one to game two was the major difference in Australia’s batting, as the Australian’s didn’t let either spinner settle. With the ball however it was the same old tale - struggle early in the powerplay, the spin bowlers reign it back in the middle overs, then Australia fail miserably at closing out an innings. Obviously the selectors couldn’t have foreseen Starc, Cummins, Hazlewood and Richardson all being unavailable, but it is baffling the lack of genuine fast bowling back up in the squad. Especially with the likes of Riley Meredith, Jhye Richardson and Nathan Ellis not in either of the Australian or Australia A squads.
Although he picked the massive wicket of Virat Kohli, Mitchell Swepson had a shaky T20I debut on Friday in Canberra. In game two Swepson found his lengths and was much better with an impressive spell of 1/25 from his four overs. Much like his leg spinning partner Adam Zampa, Swepson produces a combination of flight and dip that troubles Virat Kohli. For years Kohli has smashed cover drives for six with ease against the spinning ball, but he has been unable to get under Zampa and Swepson and will definitely be something the Aussies will be looking at heading into next years T20 World Cup.
Whilst Steve Smith gets the deserved recognition in Test cricket, he is still extremely underrated as a white ball batsmen. Back to back hundreds in the ODI series at strike rates of just under 200 sent a message that he can be just as damaging in limited overs cricket. Since the beginning of 2019, Smith has 339 runs at an average of 42 in T20I’s. Like he did in the one day series, Smith dominated the spin of Chahal on Sunday, causing India massive headaches with only five bowlers. With the rich run of form Smith is in at his home ground, against a bowling attack that looks very shaky, you can count on Smith to produce another quality knock.
Smith Top AUS Runscorer
It was a remarkable chase from India in game two as they looked out of the game multiple times as the run rate headed above twelve an over, but as they have done so far on this tour Hardik Pandya (42 not out off 22) and Kohli (40 off 24), found a way to get India over the line. Pandya starred in the field, taking a crucial catch to dismiss Steve Smith whilst also saving multiple boundaries, which proved so crucial in India’s win. The batting performances from India have been superb all tour long, however their bowling must improve after the batsmen once again had to try to compensate for a bad showing with the ball.
Natarajan went at just five an over during his spell, however his fellow bowlers struggled with the ball. Chahal (12.75), Chahar (12), Thakur (9.75) and Sundar (8.75) all had poor economy rates. With India only playing five specialist bowlers, they can’t afford to have four of their five bowlers conceding over 8.75 an over. Whilst he was man of the match in the 1st T20I, Chahal has been smashed by the Aussies all tour and needs to find a way to be effective on wickets that aren’t turning. Likewise his spin partner in Washington Sundar will need to vary his lengths more, after the Aussies found a way to score against his length bowling.
Virat Kohli is arguably the best white ball batsmen of all time and his record against Australia in T20 cricket shows it. Kohli has 633 runs at an average of 57.55, with a strike rate of 147.21. In his last nine T20I innings Kohli has scored 280 runs at an average of 40, his consistency is remarkable and he always rises to the occasion against the best teams. Whilst he scored 40 in game 2, Kohli will be disappointed that his two dismissals so far this series have been off very poor balls. Kohli has been excellent on this tour so far with scores of 89, 63 and 40 in his last four innings and with an opportunity to claim a series whitewash on Australian soil, expect King Kohli to produce a classic knock with the bat. At $4, he provides solid value as India’s top run scorer.
Kohli Top IND Runscorer
India are favourites for the first time this series and deservedly so, after incredible performances in games one and two. India have won their last ten T20I’s and that run doesn’t look like stopping any time soon. Although Australia have the batsmen to put up big scores, they simply don’t have the bowling stocks to defend scores without the likes of Cummins, Starc, Hazlewood and Richardson. If India can get back to their performance from game one with the ball, Australia don’t stand much of a chance.
India showed in game two they can win a game from any position after looking down and out at multiple stages throughout the game and that has surely got to take a mental toll on the Australians. With Kohli and Pandya in the form they are in with the bat, plus Natarajan’s incredible form with the ball, India will wrap up a 3-0 series whitewash to give themselves plenty of confidence heading into the Test series.