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India vs Australia, 2nd T20I preview: Focus on bowling, Jasprit Bumrah’s return in must-win clash for hosts

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Three days after their stunning loss in Mohali, Team India will hope to regroup and iron out the flaws in their performance when they take on Australia in the second T20I in Nagpur, with the three-match series on the line.

The Men in Blue had been struggling to defend targets in recent weeks, suffering back-to-back defeats to Pakistan and Sri Lanka in the Super 4 stage of the Asia Cup despite defending competitive totals, with their bowling plans going haywire especially in the death overs. On Tuesday, it was no different for the Indian team, who ended up on the losing side despite posting a total in excess of 200 on what was a road of a surface at the IS Bindra PCA Stadium.

Australia, whose previous bilateral series win on Indian soil was a 3-2 ODI series triumph in 2019, will be buoyed by the spirit shown by their side, especially opener Cameron Green and wicketkeeper-batter Matthew Wade who played key roles in the successful chase. And the defending T20 world champions will hope to carry the momentum from the victory over to the second game in Vidarbha and seal the series with a match to spare.

Bowling once again the focus for India

The Indian bowling unit simply hasn’t clicked in recent games, leading to fantastic knocks such as Rohit Sharma’s 72 against Sri Lanka in the Asia Cup and more recently, Hardik Pandya’s unbeaten 71 off 30 balls going in vain because of a few bad overs from the bowlers.

Despite being selected in the squad, pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah wasn’t picked in the series opener in Mohali and hard-pressed duo of skipper Rohit and coach Rahul Dravid will desperately looking to their most trusted pace option to deliver the goods in the death overs. Bumrah’s return should come as a sigh of relief for the under-fire Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who has now bowled three horror 19th overs in a row, to focus on his strength — the powerplay overs.

Read: Bhuvneshwar Kumar has been a very good finisher, says Matthew Hayden

Bhuvneshwar, however, wasn’t the only one who faltered in the death overs. Harshal Patel, who like Bumrah is making a comeback after an injury layoff, went for 22 runs in the 18th over but didn’t attract as much heat as Bhuvi did.

Finch’s form a slight improvement, still a concern

Skipper Aaron Finch on Tuesday got off to a promising start in Australia’s tricky run chase of 209; he managed to belt three fours and a six, striking at 169.23, before getting bowled off Axar Patel’s bowling that brought his stay at the crease to an end.

Finch had been going through a horror run with the bat in the build-up to this tour; he had seven single-digit scores in his last eight outings and it was his sub-par displays with the bat for most of the year that led to him announcing his ODI retirement in the home series against New Zealand earlier this month. The last thing he’d want is to create a similar environment for himself in the shortest format of the game, the only format that he plays internationally in what is the twilight of his career.

His shortcomings with the bat was brilliantly made up for by Cameron Green, who blazed his way to a 30-ball 61 in his first international outing as an opener, a position that he’s likely to continue in till David Warner returns to the lineup.

Rain threat looms large

India’s hope of ending the series as victors, however, could come to naught if the rain gods have their way with the weather forecast for Friday indicating “some sun with a thunderstorm in a couple of spots,” according to Accuweather.com.

The ‘Orange’ city has received a fair amount of rain in the past few days and both the Indian and the Australian teams were forced to cancel their practice sessions and train in the hotel gyms due to wet conditions and overcast skies.

Squads:

India: Rohit Sharma (Captain), KL Rahul (vice-captain), Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Deepak Hooda, Rishabh Pant (wicket-keeper), Dinesh Karthik (wicket-keeper), Hardik Pandya, R. Ashwin, Yuzvendra Chahal, Axar Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Harshal Patel, Deepak Chahar, Jasprit Bumrah, Umesh Yadav.

Australia: Aaron Finch (Captain), Sean Abbott, Ashton Agar, Pat Cummins (vc), Tim David, Nathan Ellis, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Josh Inglis, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, Daniel Sams, Steve Smith, Matthew Wade, Adam Zampa.

Venue: Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium, Nagpur.

Time: 7 pm IST (toss at 6.30 pm).

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