Hosts India currently trail 0-1 in the two-match series after tasting a narrow three-wicket loss in the first T20 at Visakhapatnam. With the Aussies searching for a series-clinching win, Virat Kohli and his men have their work cut out for them at Bengaluru.
Ahead of the all-important second T20 between the two sides, we take a look at the talking points.
WOUNDED AUSSIES SEARCH FOR FIRST T20I SERIES WIN OVER INDIA IN OVER A DECADE
While their limited-overs setup has been in tatters in recent times, especially in ODIs, Australia have a chance to clinch a morale-boosting series win against India just months before the start of the ICC World Cup.
It has been over a decade since Australia last beat India in a bilateral T20 series. In 2007-08, they got the better of the Men In Blue in a one-off T20 clash at Melbourne but have been unable to repeat the feat ever since.
The last five bilateral T20 series between the two teams has yielded two India victories along with three draws.
Wednesday will be a chance for the Aussies to break the hosts’ cycle of domination and doing it in India’s own backyard will be a commendable feat for skipper Aaron Finch and Justin Langer as they try to reinvigorate the team in the build up to the World Cup.
INDIA AIM TO PRESERVE PROUD HOME RECORD
Australia might have their sights set on a first T20 series win over India in over a decade but the hosts will be desperate to maintain what has been a strong record at home.
Since the turn of 2016, no team apart from defending world champions West Indies has been able to beat India at their home in a T20 series. This excellent track record for India is not just limited to home conditions but overseas as well with the recent 1-2 defeat in New Zealand their only blot apart from the two series losses to the Windies.
In their last 11 bilateral T20 series both home and away, India has emerged victorious on eight occasions along with two draws with the sole loss coming against the Kiwis.
A defeat in Bengaluru will make it two consecutive series losses in the format for India and that is something they will be eager to avoid.
DHAWAN IN THE FRAY AS INDIA PONDER CHANGES
Following the loss at Vizag, skipper Kohli has much to ponder with regards to the makeup of the playing XI. Having been rested in the first T20, opener Shikhar Dhawan will in all probability return to the line up although it remains to be seen who the left-hander will replace.
Dhawan’s return is not the only change on the cards for India with Umesh Yadav’s spot under the scanner following his disastrous final over in the first T20. Kohli could be tempted to give Siddarth Kaul a chance in place of the expensive Umesh while there is also the option of using all-rounder Vijay Shankar.
While Umesh’s place is under threat, young Rishabh Pant will be itching to get in a big score on Wednesday after being run-out for just three in Vizag. The youngster still remains on India’s radar for the World Cup squad despite his limited ODI chances and the final T20 will be a chance for him to push his claim for a spot while the debate over MS Dhoni’s waning powers continues to rage on.
The 26-year-old has signed a three-year deal with Yorkshire which remains subject to clearance through the Kolpak regulations. Announcing the news through his Instagram, Olivier has described the decision to go Kolpak as the ‘most difficult’ one of his life.
The 26-year-old’s move comes a big surprise given the exceptional start he has had to his international career with the Proteas.
Since making his South Africa debut in 2017 in the series against Sri Lanka, Olivier has gone on to pick up 48 wickets in just 10 Tests at an average of less than 20 and a strike-rate of only 30.
“My decision might be difficult for some to understand but being a professional cricket player is a short-lived career and in order for me to make the most of all my opportunities, I had to consider all my options,” Olivier wrote on his Instagram account.
Explaining his decision to go Kolpak to Yorkshire’s official website, Olivier said, “I came over to the UK last year and thoroughly enjoyed my time playing county cricket. I have since realised I could happily base myself there for the foreseeable future.”
“I was originally looking to come back as an overseas player but when I got a long-term offer from Yorkshire as a Kolpak I knew that signing for the Club would be the best option for both myself and my family.”
The exodus of Proteas players to England on Kolpak deals is not a new phenomenon with Cricket South Africa declaring themselves ‘powerless’ to stop the tide. In recent years, pacer Kyle Abbot and batsman Rilee Rossouw have been some of the players to make the move to England on Kolpak deals.
The two teams are currently locked at 1-1 in the five-match series after England romped to a six-wicket win in the first ODI before the Windies bounced back with a 26-run victory in the second.