Despite rain playing spoilsport to India’s hopes of drawing level in the three-match series, there were plenty of positives to take for Virat Kohli and his men.
The visitors had reduced the Aussies to 132-7 after Kohli had elected to field first with a spell of disciplined bowling from the entire bowling attack. Here, we look at the positives the tourists can take away from the MCG.
KHALEEL AHMED’S NEW-BALL DISPLAY
Khaleel Ahmed had been taken for as many as 42 runs from just three overs in India’s four-run defeat in the series opener at Brisbane. As such, the pressure was on the young left-arm pacer’s shoulders when he was thrown the new ball by Kohli on Friday.
The 20-year-old’s first over saw him hit for a cracking boundary through mid-off by D’Arcy Short but he bounced back with the big wicket of Chris Lynn with his next. It was a slower-ball which did the trick for Ahmed against Lynn but there was no shortage of pace in his delivery which accounted for Short.
The Aussie opener tried to heave a good-length delivery on off-stump but could only draw an inside edge onto his stumps as Ahmed had his second wicket in three overs.
It was a much-needed confident booster for the youngster after his Brisbane showing and will leave him in a much better state of mind ahead of the deciding T20 at Sydney.
KRUNAL PANDYA REDEEMS HIMSELF
Krunal Pandya’s first-ever outing on Australian soil did not go as well as he would have hoped with the spinning all-rounder being taken for 55 runs in his four overs. The 27-year-old was taken to the cleaners at the Gabba after a brutal attack by Glenn Maxwell but was given a show of faith by the skipper who retained him in the playing XI at Melbourne.
Having bowled the third-most expensive spell by an Indian bowler in T20 cricket in his Brisbane outings, the southpaw repaid his captain’s faith with a much more economical display. Pandya conceded only 26 runs from his four overs at the MCG and in the process managed to extract revenge on Maxwell too.
Maxwell was squared-up by a pacey delivery which turned just enough to take his outside edge and then his off-stump as Australia’s innings continued to falter at Melbourne.
KOHLI SHOWS MATURITY WITH CAPTAINCY
The biggest positive for India from Friday will come in the form of Kohli’s captaincy itself. The batting sensation has been criticised with some of his on-field decisions in the past but on Friday, he showed a more matured side to his leadership with some sensible moves.
Kohli had erred by not giving Ahmed the new-ball at Brisbane and the left-armer had leaked runs after being asked to bowl in the middle-overs. With the potency of the swing he generates negated, Ahmed was unable to stop the flow of runs with an older ball.
Kohli rectified that mistake by letting Ahmed share the new ball with Bhuvneshwar Kumar and he delivered by striking two crucial blows. The India skipper also stayed away from his tendency to chop and change by giving Pandya another go despite his expensive Brisbane outing. That decision proved to be an excellent one too with the all-rounder putting in a disciplined showing.
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