Fitting finale on the cards, but rain remains big threat

Virat Kohli

Calcutta: A bit of the attention has gone on to Ashish Nehra for his decision to retire from all forms of cricket on November 1, but India are definitely aware of the pending work when they meet Australia for the third and final T20I, at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad on Friday.

If the Indians are focused on winning Friday’s game, the Aussies too must be keen on wrapping up the T20I series and finishing the tour on a postive note.

Rain, though, could play spoilsport as there’s forecast of thundershowers in the evening.

The ODIs, unexpectedly, became a bit one-sided as India never really had to break much of a sweat in their 4-1 victory. And for Australia as well, they never really returned absolutely empty-handed from India in their previous tours. Even if they very badly in the Tests, they made amends in the shorter version.

So, on this occasion, David Warner too would surely be egging his team-mates on to bring out their best in them and work on the momentum gained after a thumping win in Guwahati, which helped the visitors draw level. Being captain of IPL franchise Sunrisers Hyderabad, Warner is quite a popular character in these parts, helping the franchise lift the trophy in 2016.

It just cannot get any better if captain Warner produces something special and receives an ideal response from the rest in the Aussie line-up in what could well be called his ‘second home’.

The Indians are certainly aware of the fact that Warner knows conditions in Hyderabad really well. The pitch tends to be on the slow side, yet Warner has scored more runs than anyone else in the T20 format and averages well above 50.

Barring the fourth ODI in Bangalore, it’s been yet another quiet tour of India for Warner. Has he saved his best for the last then in one of his most trusted grounds, which will be hosting its first-ever T20I? The Aussies would only be too happy then.

But Virat Kohli and Co. would definitely want Australia’s stand-in captain to depart as early as possible because the IPL has witnessed on several occasions the kind of damage Warner can inflict when he’s well set in Hyderabad.

That said, before delving deep into the Warner issue, India do need to sort out batting issues especially when opposition bowlers are spot-on with their line and length. After the Chennai ODI, the previous game in Guwahati again showed that despite having so much ability with tonnes of runs under their belt, the Indian top order remains vulnerable when rival pacers get it right in helpful conditions.

In Chennai, Hardik Pandya and Mahendra Singh Dhoni bailed India out after they were reeling at 11 for three. In Guwahati, India were again wobbling at 27 for four. Neither Pandya nor Dhoni were able to fire and India were bundled out for a paltry 118.

With due respect to Jason Behrendorff, he is no Wasim Akram or even a Mohammed Aamir. Besides, it was only Behrendorff’s second international game.

No wonder the left-arm pacer will have his tail up when he resumes bowling on Friday, considering how India’s batsmen faltered the other evening.

Dinesh Karthik had a long net session and took throwdowns as well on the eve of the game, as India may try him or Lokesh Rahul in the middle order, possibly in place of Manish Pandey who seems to be struggling with his rhythm. Given the state of the series, it remains to be seen if India will give Nehra a game in the city he last represented in the IPL, ahead of his farewell game .

The Aussies, on the other hand, are expected to remain unchanged. It will only be surprising if they think about tinkering with the winning combination.


India (likely): Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Manish Pandey/Dinesh Karthik/Lokesh Rahul, Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Yuzvendra Chahal.
Australia (likely): Aaron Finch, David Warner, Moises Henriques, Travis Head, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Tim Paine, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Andrew Tye, Adam Zampa, Jason Behrendorff.
Match starts: 7pm.


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