IND v AUS: India eyes series-saving win

The focus remains firmly on the World Cup but India would also be desperate to ensure that a home series does not slip out of its grip when it takes on Australia in the second and final T20 International on Wednesday.

Virat Kohli discusses a point with Ravi Shastri and K.L. Rahul in Bengaluru on Tuesday.   -  AP

Losing a close game is never a pleasant feeling -- Virat Kohli had a face like thunder after Australia scrambled two off the final ball in Visakhapatnam -- but India should not be overly worried by a single T20 defeat.

The home side nearly defended a low total when all seemed lost, and should derive confidence from the manner in which it strangled Australia as the tension rose.

The two teams served up a thriller on the weekend and more drama is expected when they meet at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium for Wednesday's second T20. For Australia, this is a chance to notch up a first T20I series win -- insofar as these things matter -- on Indian soil. India, for its part, has only once lost a T20I series (of more than one match) at home, to South Africa in 2015.

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If Kohli's men are to avoid a second series loss, they will need to turn in an improved batting performance. The pitch in Visakhapatnam was not conducive to shot-making and both Kohli and K.L. Rahul fell trying to force the pace (while the chasing side did not need to take such risks), but Krunal Pandya and Rishabh Pant could have made better decisions.

“It was a great bowling effort,” Pandya said here on Tuesday. “Everyone chipped in and it was great that we almost defended 126. But it's just that, when we come to the batting we have to be more cautious.”

Ravi Shastri and Rishabh Pant in Bengaluru on Tuesday.   -  AP

 

India rested Shikhar Dhawan, in whose absence Rahul opened the innings, to good effect. He could return to the team, and it remains to be seen if Kohli will choose to rotate out another key player ahead of the ODI series. Also, the absence of an all-rounder meant that Umesh Yadav was forced to bat as high as eight; Vijay Shankar, who was omitted in Visakhapatnam, is an option.

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The pitch is unlikely to be as slow and low as Sunday's surface, with the KSCA believing that this will be a high-scoring fixture.

Debutante Mayank Markande was one of three spinners India fielded in the first T20; it is unlikely there will be much turn on offer here. Siddharth Kaul played no part in Visakhapatnam and it would not be too much of a surprise if he replaced Jasprit Bumrah or Umesh here.

On Sunday, Australia chose to open with Marcus Stoinis and D'Arcy Short, picking them from the several different combinations that could have been fielded. Stoinis, who Kohli labelled the "biggest threat" to India, has promptly been nicknamed 'BT' by his teammates. The all-rounder was run-out for 1 in inexplicable fashion but, at a venue that is soon set to be his home ground in the IPL, Stoinis will hope to demonstrate what he is capable of.

Australia has options on the bench in Alex Carey, Nathan Lyon, Usman Khawaja and the vegan fast bowler Kane Richardson (for whom Kohli arranged peanut butter during their time at RCB). Aaron Finch and Justin Langer have the luxury of choice as they chase their second victory of the tour. It would be a great way to enter the ODI series.

The squads

India: Virat Kohli (captain), Rohit Sharma, K.L. Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan, Rishabh Pant, Dinesh Karthik, M.S. Dhoni (wicketkeeper), Krunal Pandya, Vijay Shankar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Umesh Yadav, Sidharth Kaul, Mayank Markande.

Australia: Aaron Finch (captain), D’Arcy Short, Pat Cummins, Alex Carey, Jason Behrendorff, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Peter Handscomb, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Glenn Maxwell, Jhye Richardson, Kane Richardson, Marcus Stoinis, Ashton Turner, Adam Zampa.

Match starts: 7pm IST.