After a last-ball win in Visakhapatnam, Australia must have gone back to hotel rooms and breathed a sigh of relief. The Men in Yellow were bad, but luckily for them, India were worse. It resulted in a thrilling Australian win when instead it should have been an empathic victory. In the end, however, it is the Australians that are 1-0 up and head into tonight's second encounter with the luxury of knowing they cannot lose the series.
(The second T20I between India and Australia will begin at 7 PM (IST) and will be telecast on Star Sports Network).
They will also be aware that the surface in Bangalore will be vastly different from the one they played on in Visakhapatnam. The M Chinnaswamy stadium is India's six-hitting Colosseum. There have been over 650 sixes hit at this venue since the inauguration of the IPL and it is common to witness more maximums here than fours. The boundaries might not be as short as Dr. Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy ACA-VDCA Cricket Stadium, but the high altitude of Bengaluru means the ball travels a lot further through the air.
The pitch is expected to be more favourable for shot-making than Visakhapatnam, but according to locals a score around 170-180 will be competitive. It is the back end of the winter in Bangalore and dew could play a pivotal role in the second innings. Teams prefer to chase totals here rather than set targets. There is no doubt both teams will prefer to bowl first, but Australia will be aware that another frantic batting exhibition at the death and the result might not again be as friendly to them as in the first T20I.
The current Aussie batting line-up is an iffy, nervy, wobbly unit that can capitulate under high-pressure scenarios. Glenn Maxwell was the hero in Visakhapatnam with his nice cameo of 56 from 43 balls. The talented all-rounder has runs under his belt and should thrive on the Bangalore pitch. No doubt, Yuzvendra Chahal will test Maxwell's ego by bowling him the wide, loopy leg spinner that breaks further away from his hitting range. It promises to be an absorbing contest between the two.
With each game, the pressure is building on Aaron Finch to conjure up a big score. It has been seven international innings since he last scored a fifty and his demotion to No 3 is an indication of his low confidence.
Australia will need either of Finch, Marcus Stoinis or Darcy Short to make a significant contribution at the top of the order to challenge India on a placid track. The visiting bowlers will also need to vary their plans in Bangalore and cannot rely on the surface to play the tricks.
India in the meantime will need a methodical approach with the bat. The hosts lost the opening game between the 8th and the 14th over in which they lost five wickets in space of 38 balls for 31 runs. One can guarantee Virat Kohli won't repeat the same mistakes and expect India to cash in if the openers provide them a good start.
The rotation and the preservation system that is in place ahead of the World Cup could also result in a couple of changes. Shikhar Dhawan could return to partner Rohit Sharma at the top with KL Rahul dropping down to No 3. This will allow Kohli to play the holding role at No 4 and permit Rishab Pant to play with that extra freedom. Siddharth Kaul is likely to replace Mayank Markande and there might be thought of playing Vijay Shankar to strengthen the tail.
Umesh Yadav was touted as the villain of the opening match, but the right-arm pacer was exceptional with the new ball at this venue for his IPL franchise last year. Yadav took a wicket six out of his seven times with his opening burst in the IPL in Bengaluru in 2018. He managed to consistently swing the new ball and accumulated 13 wickets at the Chinnaswamy Stadium.
Chahal is another member that knows this surface inside out. The wily leg-spinner could be India's trump card on this pitch and the way Australia handles him could well decide the outcome of the match.
India have not lost a bilateral T20I series against Australia since being defeated in a one-off match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in January 2008. It has also been over three years since the last time India lost three consecutive T20 matches. The T20 series might not have a great bearing on the future, but India will be desperate to blow away the cobwebs and return to the winnings ways.
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