The T20 series was a shot at redemption for the once ‘mighty’ Aussies, after being disgracefully beaten 4-1 in the ODI series. With captain and premier batsman Steve Smith ruled out of the series due to a shoulder injury, the odds were against the visiting team, to overcome an Indian team oozing confidence and playing a brand of ruthless cricket since Virat Kohli took over.
FIRST T20– Rain Overshadows Dhoni’s Homecoming
The first T20 in Ranchi was all about MS Dhoni playing in his hometown. A glimpse of the former Indian captain on the big screen was enough to excite the packed crowd. As expected, India won the toss and put the Aussies into bat, with rain expected to play a part in the contest.After consolidating the innings to an extent following a shaky start, Maxwell perished to Chahal once again in the tour.The downfall started and the Aussies could only manage a mere 118 in their quota of 20 overs.Bumrah and Kuldeep were the pick of the bowlers, with the latter showing how India can cope up without the likes of Ashwin and Jadeja in the shorter format. The rain gods then arrived and brought the game to a halt, something which did not please the crowd or the Indian team. However, once the rain stopped, India was set a target of 48 in 6 overs, thanks to the DLS method (the logic of which probably even Shashank Manohar wouldn’t understand). India chased down the score with utmost ease, with 3 balls and 9 wickets remaining, despite the early loss of Rohit Sharma.
SECOND T20– The Spirited Australian Fightback
Dismiss the Aussies at your own peril, is what the legends of the game say.After the performance in the first T20, Indian fans were expecting another 3-0 whitewash. However, the Aussies came back fighting, and how. After winning the toss and putting the Indians into bat, Behrendorff, a name that not many Indians would be familiar with, stunned the hosts with the scalps of Rohit and Virat in the very first over, the latter recording his first ever duck in International T20. Behrendorff caused further damage with the wickets of Dhawan and Pandey. With the top 4 back in the pavilion in just four-and-a-half overs, India couldn’t manage to find any kind of momentum throughout the innings, bundling out for 118. Chasing a small target can always seem tricky. Australia got off to the worst possible start, losing stand-in captain Warner and Finch for cheap scores of 8 and 2 respectively. With the scorecard reading 13-2, the pressure was all on the Australian batsmen. However, the unlikely duo of Henriques and Head stood up, stringing a partnership of 109 runs in just 76 balls, taking the Aussies to a comfortable victory and leveling up the series. Jason Behrendorff was deservedly adjudged the Man of the Match, for his outstanding spell of 4-0-21-4. MS Dhoni getting stumped in the game is perhaps the biggest highlight, to see a master beaten at his own game!
THIRD T20– Rain Plays Spoilsport
After 2 matches that were pretty much one-sided, the T20 series was set up perfectly for the decider in Hyderabad. However, all the excitement that had been built up for this clash was ultimately ‘washed away’ as rain played spoilsport and the match was abandoned without a ball being bowled.
There was nothing really to choose from between the two sides at the end of the series. India managed a comfortable victory in the first T20, and the Aussies had it way too easy in the next T20. The 1-1 score line is probably a fair reflection of the series.
With Steve Smith missing, Warner would be proud of the way his boys bounced back from the damaging defeat in the first T20.India, on the other hand, would be satisfied with the way the entire series panned out, Chahal and Kuldeep in particular.
Most Runs- Moises Henriques 70 runs at average of 70. SR-127
Most Wickets- Jason Behrendoff 4 wickets at at economy of 5.2
Fifth Umpire Champion of the Series- Adam Zampa 2 wickets at economy of 5
All in all, it was a disappointing tour for the Kangaroos. Yes, they missed their premium fast bowlers Starc and Hazelwood, but seldom do we see an Australian side brushed away with so much ease. The batsmen didn’t turn up when they were most required to, the bowlers were too wayward in line and length.The only positive aspect would be the finding of Jason Behrendorff. After 2 boundaries off the first 3 balls of the Indian innings in the second T20, Behrendorff sent the top 4 back into the hut.
For India though, the series went pretty much as they would have planned. After a dominating series victory in the ODIs, the team stuttered a little in the T20s but it wouldn’t affect the team much, as it was just a one-off.The 2-man seam attack with Pandya as the third seamer seems to be working for captain Kohli, whose confidence in players seems to be paying off at the moment. India probably ticked all boxes that would have been set at the start of the series. With the World Cup in sights, this Indian team seems to be taking giant strides towards being one of the strongest contenders to win the Trophy for the third time.