The rain has followed Australia’s T20Is around: the one-off match against South Africa was reduced to a T10, the opening game against India had overs lopped off, and in Melbourne the contest didn’t get beyond the first innings as showers teased everyone that they would allow a resumption.
On balance, the rain allowed Australia to get away with it in Melbourne and denied India a great opportunity to level the series. Now, the best India can get is a share of the spoils in Sydney. At the Gabba, Australia’s batting found its stride – particularly between Glenn Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis – but India managed to return some blows before the rain at the MCG.
Captain Aaron Finch went for a first-ball duck and Glenn Maxwell was defeated by Krunal Pandya, a significant response from the spinner who had been dispatched by Maxwell two nights earlier. Although he was the most expensive of the India’s bowlers, Khaheel Ahmed again caught the eye with his variations of pace. Now all this series needs is a solid few hours of dry weather.
(last five completed matches)
In the spotlight
Aaron Finch‘s output has gone south since the promising start to his Test career with a top score of 41 in 10 innings. They have all been white-ball knocks so their significance for a return to red-ball cricket may not be huge, but at a time of enough uncertainty in Australia’s Test top-order they don’t need another headache. The Sheffield Shield match next week shapes as more important in setting up Finch’s form heading into the first Test, but a few out of the middle at the SCG wouldn’t go amiss.
It was the below-par performance of three of India’s top four which cost them in Brisbane and they didn’t have the chance to make amends in Melbourne. KL Rahul is currently slotted in at No. 3, ahead of Virat Kohli, which puts increasing onus on him not to eat up deliveries. His 13 off 12 balls in a hefty chase was therefore far from ideal with the world’s finest white-ball batsman behind.
Australia have called up Mitchell Starc, who has not played a T20I since 2016, as a replacement for Billy Stanlake who injured his ankle in the warm-ups moments before the toss in Melbourne. D’Arcy Short has struggled in his three T20Is this season with 21 runs off 28 balls but there are no other specialist batting options.
Australia (probable) 1 Aaron Finch (capt), 2 D’arcy Short, 3 Chris Lynn, 4 Glenn Maxwell, 5 Marcus Stoinis, 6 Ben McDermott, 7 Alex Carey (wk), 8 Nathan Coulter-Nile/Mitchell Starc, 9 Andrew Tye, 10 Adam Zampa, 11 Jason Behrendorff
The only debate for India would again appear to be if they want to get Yuzvendra Chahal into the XI. It’s tough with the balance of side they have, but the success of Kuldeep Yadav may yet make it tempting.
India (probable) 1 Rohit Sharma, 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Virat Kohli (capt.), 4 KL Rahul, 5 Rishabh Pant (wk), 6 Dinesh Karthik, 7 Krunal Pandya, 8 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 9 Kuldeep Yadav, 10 Jasprit Bumrah, 11 Khaleel Ahmed/Yuzvendra Chahal
Pitch and conditions
The Sheffield Shield pitch used a couple of weeks ago was slow and Sydney’s surfaces have not had much pace in recent times. The city has experienced strong winds and dust storms in recent days, but the forecast is better for Sunday and there is no rain forecast.
Stats and Trivia
The only previous T20I between the two teams at the SCG was a memorable encounter as India chased down 198 off the final ball in 2016.
Since the T20I tri-series in Zimbabwe, Australia’s batsmen have scored two-half-centuries in seven matches: Short’s 68 not out against UAE and Maxwell’s 52 against Pakistan in Dubai.
For bowlers with 30+ wickets in T20Is, Kuldeep Yadav has the second lowest average (12.78) behind Rashid Khan and the best strike-rate.
Mitchell Starc’s last T20I on home soil was against England at the SCG in February 2014
“It’s not everyday you have the opportunity to win a series for Australia. So it’s shaping up well, we’re doing the right things and we’ve got one win on the board, we just need that one more.”