SYDNEY, December 7: The series pocketed and their confidence restored, India would eye nothing less than a clean sweep when they take on an Australian side significantly weakened by injury blows in the third and final T20 International here on Tuesday.
Skipper Virat Kohli and his main protagonist of the white-ball leg, Hardik Pandya, will feel a sense of deja vu given that the script has panned out exactly like 2016 when the team got walloped in the ODIs but came back strongly to rout the Aussies 3-0 in the T20 international series.
After a couple of crushing defeats in the first two ODIs, the Indians have turned a corner starting with the final ODI in Canberra.
Even the absence of a white-ball pro like Ravindra Jadeja didn’t have an impact during their convincing six-wicket win in the series-clinching second T20I on Sunday.
What will boost the Indian team’s morale manifold is the fact that it had the confidence to rest both Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah, relying on a troika of pacers, who, between them, haven’t played even 40 games collectively.
India’s new white-ball sensation Thangarasu Natarajan has had a superb initiation in international cricket with Australian batsmen still finding it difficult to read him.
As Pandya so rightly put it, Natarajan’s spell and the 10 runs that Australia failed to score became the difference between winning and losing on Sunday.
The difference between India and Australia during the last game was the batting of the two teams during the middle overs.
Australia lost a bit of momentum after stand-in skipper Matthew Wade was dismissed while his opposite number Kohli played some outrageous shots after the Powerplay to up the ante.
Shreyas Iyer’s induction in place of an injured Manish Pandey also worked well for the visitors.
The only glitch in an otherwise solid show was Yuzvendra Chahal’s rare offday.
For Australia, the absence of regular skipper Aaron Finch, David Warner, Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood did have an impact, although three of the five did play in the first T20 international that India comfortably won by 11 runs.
D’Arcy Short hasn’t looked the part as an opener in the two games and one would expect Marcus Stoinis and Glenn Maxwell to shoulder more responsibility as senior players.
But Australia’s thin-on-experience bowlers will have to play out of their skins to stop the Indian juggernaut which has started rolling.
A 3-0 win would be the perfect booster shot for the visitors before the allimportant Test series.
In case of Australia, while a thrashing would impact them a lot, they would try and look at it from a different perspective — most of their Test specialists will not have the scars of a clean sweep when they take on India under lights in the first Test at the Adelaide Oval, starting December 17.
Virat Kohli becomes 1st Indian skipper to win T20I series in SENA countries
Virat Kohli has become the first Indian skipper to win a T20I series in SENA countries — South Africa, England, New Zealand, and Australia — after all-rounder Hardik Pandya helped the Men in Blue chase down a target of 195 runs on Sunday.
Former skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni had led India to wins in Australia and South Africa but wasn’t able to register a series victory in New Zealand and England.
The Indian skipper also became the only international captain to clinch a series (more than one match) across all formats in Australia.
Former South African skipper Faf du Plessis is the only other captain to achieve the feat across formats on Australian soil but his series win in the shortest format of the game came in a one-off affair in 2018.
With the win on Sunday, India gained an unassailable 2-0 lead in the threematch series.
The dead rubber and final T20I will be played at the same venue on Tuesday. (PTI/ANI)