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AUS vs IND, 2nd T20I: Talking points as India win series after splendid batting show

Team India registered a comprehensive series win as they clinched the second T20 International against Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Sunday. After winning the toss and sending the home team to bat first, the Indians were on the backfoot as quick cameos from all the Aussie batsmen seemed to take the game away from them. Despite missing aggressive opener Aaron Finch at the top, stand-in skipper Matthew Wade ensured that his absence was not felt as he slammed a quick 58 to give the team a solid foundation. Steven Smith, Glenn Maxwell and Moises Henriques all played vital cameos as the home team managed to score close to 200 runs. 

In reply, the Indians started off on an aggressive note, with the openers KL Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan scoring 56 in the powerplay overs. Virat Kohli helped take the team close, before Shreyas Iyer and Hardik Pandya kept their nerves to seal a memorable win. The next game will be played on Tuesday.

Brief Scores: Australia 194/5 (Matthew Wade 58, Steve Smith 46; T Natarajan 2-20) lost to India 195/4 (Shikhar Dhawan 52, Hardik Pandya 42*, Virat Kohli 40*) by 6 wickets.

Here are the talking points from the second T20 International between India and Australia. 

Also Read: AUS vs IND, 2nd T20I: Hardik Pandya cameo helps Team India register series win

The emergence of Shikhar Dhawan in the format 

Shikhar Dhawan did not have the greatest strike rate in T20 Internationals – his career strike rate in the format is just over 128 after 61 innings’ – but the left-hander has seemed to reform his playing style and approach in the last few weeks. After a sedate start to the Indian Premier League, Dhawan reinvented his game and was unstoppable as he became the first ever cricketer in the league to smash successive tons. He managed just 1 in the first T20 International, but made his presence felt in the second game with a quick 52 that came in 36 balls (four 4s, two 6s). Needing a stiff 195 for a win, Dhawan was at his fearless best as he took apart the fast bowlers and attacked the spinners to lay the perfect foundation for Team India. His aggressive approach has meant that Team India have not missed the services of Rohit Sharma, who is likely to miss the whole tour due to a hamstring injury. 

Hardik Pandya – the finisher Team India needs 

Before the white ball series against Australia, Hardik Pandya’s inclusion in the squad for the ODIs and the T20Is was highly debated. With the all-rounder not bowling of late due to a back surgery that he had last year, the team balance was severely affected, as it meant that no player in the top six could bowl. Questions over whether Pandya was good enough to be selected in the team solely for his batting were debated, but with clinical showings thus far, the Baroda cricketer has pushed all doubts to rest. The ODI series saw Pandya narrowly miss out on his maiden hundred twice, as he managed scores of 90, 28 and 928 in the three innings that he batted. In the two T20 Internationals that he has played thus far, he has scores of 16 and an unbeaten 42 of just 22 balls. He has not only proven the critics wrong, but has also displayed his fearless attitude and his never say die spirit with his powerful batting. His strike rate in the Indian Premier League has leapfrogged in the last two seasons, and there is a certain maturity to Pandya’s batting, which has been on full display in the Australia tour. 

Sydney Cricket Ground continues to be a high scoring venue 

Once known as a haven for the bowlers, the Sydney Cricket Ground has, of late, given way to a flat track that has plenty on offer for the batsmen. The two games in the ODI series here saw scores of 374, 308, 389 and 338 being scored, while Team India chased down 195 with relative ease during the second T20I. The other venue that has been in use on this tour, the Manuka Oval in Canberra, has had a more equal balance between bat and ball, while the SCG, that usually aids the spinners in the second half and the faster bowlers upfront, has not been the usual track that one would expect to find in Australia. 

Australia’s depth in T20Is is to be envied 

Not only does the Australian cricket team have one of the strongest batting line-ups in the world, they also have incredible depth with as many as eight bowling options available. Every player in the Australian cricket team that played the T20I on Sunday has at least a wicket to his name in the format, with only skipper Matthew Wade (who filled in for injured Aaron Finch) not being among the wicket charts in T20 Internationals. On Sunday, against India, seven Australian bowlers were tried out and asked to bend their arm over, but the move did not pay off as they failed to curtail the Indian batting line-up that chased down 195 with relative ease.

In contrast, the Men in Blue have been severely affected by the injury to Ravindra Jadeja. His absence means that India have no option but to play only five specialist bowlers, with no batter in the top six rolling his arm over. The limitations with Hardik Pandya not bowling of late impacted proceedings during the second T20I, as Team India had no sixth bowler, which meant that Virat Kohli had to persist with Yuzvendra Chahal and Deepak Chahar, even when they had been hit for plenty. While Chahar had an economy rate of 12, Chahal conceded 51 in his 4 overs. Shardul Thakur ended with an economy rate of close to 10, while Washington Sundar gave away 35 in his 4 overs. 

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