Team India lost their first T20 International in 12 games as they slumped to a 12-run loss against Australia in the third game of the series to eventually win 2-1. On a used track at the Sydney Cricket Ground, the Men in Blue were below par with the ball yet again as they bowled a number of short and loose deliveries, which allowed opener Matthew Wade to make the most of the powerplay overs. Despite the quick wickets of Aaron Finch and Steven Smith, the arrival of Glenn Maxwell ensured that the Run Rate never dipped. The duo of Wade and Maxwell combined to put on 90 runs in no time, which further increased the pressure on the Indians, who were sloppy on the field and dropped Maxi twice.
In reply, the Indians got off to a flier but the introduction of the two leg-spinners Mitchell Swepson and Adam Zampa severely dented the run flow, which shot up to 15.2 at one stage. Despite the efforts of Virat Kohli and Hardik Pandya at the end, the slow batting in the middle overs proved to be the difference in the end.
Brief Scores: Australia 186 for 5 (Wade 80, Maxwell 54, Sundar 2-34, Natarajan 1-33) beat India 174 for 7 (Kohli 85, Swepson 3-23, Zampa 1-21) by 12 runs
Here are the talking points from the third and final T20I between India and Australia.
The arrival of Matthew Wade as an opener
Team Australia were on the backfoot ahead of the T20I series as David Warner was ruled out due to a groin injury. With Aaron Finch not in the XI in the second T20I, the Aussies were under severe pressure, but stand-in skipper Matthew Wade stood up and raised his game with a fine half century. In the third T20I, Wade was asked to open the innings in place of D’Arcy Short as Finch returned to the side. The wicket keeper was at his fluent best yet again as he raced away to a career best of 80 in just 53 balls, including seven fours and two sixes. He ended the three-match series with an average of 48.33, and has become a serious contender to be a regular in the T20I set-up, even when Warner returns.
T Natarajan’s rise is exciting
In a series where the bowlers from both sides went for plenty, T Natarajan ended with exceptional figures of 6 for 83, which made him one of the most economical bowlers. The find of the Indian Premier League this season was fast tracked into the T20I side after an injury to Varun Chakravarthy ahead of the series against Australia. The Tamil Nadu pacer impressed with his ability to bowl the yorkers in the IPL – he had ended with the most number of yorkers in the league this year – and has continued his yorker-bowling abilities for Team India as well. However, the fast bowler has added a number of variations to his bowling as well, which should be good news for all cricket lovers. Team India has struggled to find economical death over bowlers of late but if Natarajan can continue his form, then he, along with Jasprit Bumrah, who was rested for the T20Is, could form a potent pair.
What has happened to Virat Kohli in the middle overs?
A worrying trend regarding Virat Kohli’s batting has emerged since the IPL, which has sent Team India fans in a tizzy. The best batsmen in the world has a shocking batting speed in the middle overs of a T20 innings – a fact that was on full display in the IPL as well. Kohli’s team Royal Challengers Bangalore had ended the season with the worst run rate in overs 7-15, a period where Kohli usually bats in. On Tuesday, the same trend was visible yet again. Despite getting off to a flier and scoring 51 in the first 30 balls that he faced, Kohli’s strike rate dropped drastically as the innings progressed. He eventually ended with 85 off 61, including 34 in the last 31 balls that he faced. Team India’s run rate slipped from 9.17 in the powerplay overs to 6.22 between overs 7 to 15, which is where the game was lost. The introduction of the two leg spinners, and Kohli’s own struggles against them of late had a major role to play in the climbing Net Run Rate. Team India could not score a single boundary in six overs in the middle overs, which eventually meant that the asking rate reached an improbable 15 in the last 5 overs.