The spotlight is on the bowlers and a tentative middle order as India go into the second T20I against Australia in Thiruvananthapuram on Sunday.
The Suryakumar Yadav-led side does enjoy a 1-0 lead against this Matthew Wade-led Australian team, but the win in the series opener in Visakhapatnam last Thursday had more to do with the captain’s 42-ball 80 and his 112-run stand for the third wicket with Ishan Kishan, who had hit 58.
That two-wicket win though cannot keep under wraps the pounding India’s bowling attack took before needless shots from some in the middle order made the game unnecessarily tighter, forcing it to a last-ball finish. Thanks to Rinku Singh, who had remained unbeaten on 22, the hara-kiri from the likes of Tilak Varma and Axar Patel didn’t cost India much in the end.
It’s up to the Indian team management to decide whether a tweak or two in the XI needs to be made. But rain in Thiruvananthapuram may as well have a say in the make-up of the two teams.
It rained in the Kerala capital on Saturday as well, which means there could be some swing on offer for the quicks. Prasidh Krishna, in particular, never really looked settled in the last game, being expensive in almost all the four overs he bowled.
Will India give at least one more chance to Prasidh or bring in Avesh Khan as his replacement? That remains to be seen. However, if it rains further before the game begins and the conditions do hint at movement in the air, India may think of bringing in medium-pacer all-rounder Shivam Dube in leg-spinner Ravi Bishnoi’s place alongside the three pacers.
Bishnoi, though starting well with a wicket in his first over, looked clueless on Thursday when centurion Josh Inglis took him on. Of course, it was quality stroke-making from Inglis, but Bishnoi didn’t really try to vary his pace which could have helped him on that surface.
At the same time, how much confidence Dube invokes as a bowler is another matter of note. Even against Nepal in the Asian Games in early October, he went wicketless for 37 off his three overs.
So, it’s a tricky situation ahead for India in terms of how they put an ideal bowling attack in place. Obviously, Mukesh Kumar’s bowling, especially in that final over of Australia’s innings in the first T20I, should be of some relief for Surya and Co.
If he can get his lengths right on a belter of a track, the Bengal quick can certainly fare even better if there’s swing and movement on offer.
All said and done, Mukesh and his bowling colleagues need to keep in mind that Australia still have game-changers and match-winners like Travis Head and Glenn Maxwell in their dugout. And at some point in the series, both of them would surely be playing a part.