Third T20I: India aim to seal series against weary Australia

Some of the senior Australian players have been in India for nine weeks

india-aus-t20-afp Indian players celebrate after winning the second T20I against Australia at the Greenfield International Stadium in Thiruvananthapuram | AFP

The stylish Tilak Varma wouldn't mind some quality batting time before his possible exit from the playing XI as the Indian team aims to take an unassailable lead in the third T20 International against Australia in Guwahati on Tuesday.

Shreyas Iyer, who was given a week's rest after the World Cup final, will join the squad for the last two games in Raipur and Bengaluru, taking vice-captaincy duties from Ruturaj Gaikwad.

That effectively means that Iyer will walk into the playing XI and there is a strong possibility that he will replace Tilak. The replacement has more to do with combination rather than form.

After near-flawless batting performance in back-to-back games, the new-look Indian team would like to keep its foot firmly on the pedal on a Barsapara Stadium track that has traditionally been a batting belter. And there is no reason to think that the 22-yard strip is any different this time also.

The 40,000 spectators, expected to fill up the stands, would expect a run-feast from the talented Indian batting unit, which would want to add to the 36 boundaries and 24 maximums it has collectively hit across the two games.

For Australia, some of their senior players like Steve Smith, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis and Adam Zampa have been in India for nine weeks and fatigue is showing. They need considerable rest before their next assignments.

All the four will play in Big Bash League next month. For Smith, the Pakistan Test series would be his next international assignment.

Possibly Tilak's last chance in series

India's top-order has ticked all the boxes with Yashasvi Jaiswal, Ruturaj Gaikwad and skipper Suryakumar Yadav hitting at a half-century each.

Ishan Kishan, showing no signs of rustiness even after spending nearly five and half weeks on the World Cup bench, has got two half centuries under his belt.

Rinku Singh, with two superb rear-guard knocks, has consolidated his status as designated finisher in this format and is slowly ensuring a permanent No.6 slot for him in this batting order ahead of the T20 World Cup.

However, Tilak, who has not missed any of India's last 12 T20 Internationals, is in a tricky place as he bats No.5 and he faced just 12 deliveries in the last two games.

In the first game, he scored 12 runs off 10 balls with two boundaries in a chase of 209. In the second game in Thiruvananthapuram on Sunday, he faced the final two deliveries of the Indian innings as Rinku was promoted ahead of him to give the final push.

It would be interesting to see if skipper Suryakumar himself drops a place down in the batting order and gives his younger colleague a chance to play few more balls and get some runs under his belt before Iyer comes calling in the next game in Raipur.

Improved bowling performance

Considering the nature of tracks on offer, Indian bowlers put up a far improved performance in the second game after conceding 208 runs in the series-opener.

While the dot ball count in the first two games remained nearly the same - 45 in the first and 44 in the second - what has significantly improved is the decrease in boundary percentage while defending in dew-laden conditions in Thiruvananthapuram.

From being hit for 24 fours in the first game, the same Indian attack cut it down to half in the next game.

Prasidh Krishna, after being creamed by Josh Inglis and Steve Smith in Visakhapatnam, made a strong comeback with three wickets in his second spell.

However, one needs to also factor in that Prasidh was bowling with a cushion of a mammoth target of 235. He was not under pressure.

Even the normally profligate Arshdeep Singh, for a change, nailed his block-hole deliveries during death overs.


India: Suryakumar Yadav (captain), Ruturaj Gaikwad (vice-captain), Ishan Kishan, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Tilak Varma, Rinku Singh, Jitesh Sharma (wk), Washington Sundar, Axar Patel, Shivam Dubey, Ravi Bishnoi, Arshdeep Singh, Prasidh Krishna, Avesh Khan, Mukesh Kumar.

Australia: Matthew Wade (captain), Aaron Hardie, Jason Behrendorff, Sean Abbott, Tim David, Nathan Ellis, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Glenn Maxwell, Tanveer Sangha, Matt Short, Steve Smith, Marcus Stoinis, Kane Richardson, Adam Zampa.

Match starts at 7pm IST. 

Join our WhatsApp Channel to get the latest news, exclusives and videos on WhatsApp