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India eyes series win at MCG

Australia is without two key players, but the return of Glenn Maxwell will be a major boost

India eyes series win at MCG - Cricket News
R Ashwin celebrates with his teammates after picking a wicket
For the first time on tour, India will go into a match being ahead in the series. Victory in the first Twenty20 International in Adelaide made India’s Republic Day that much sweeter, while it marred Australia Day for the home team.
In the second T20I in Melbourne, on Friday (January 29), Australia will be without the dynamic duo of Steven Smith and David Warner, who have both been given a break. It will, however, be fortified by the possibility of Glenn Maxwell’s return. The allrounder, who was named ODI cricketer of the year at the Allan Border medal ceremony on Wednesday, had to sit out of the first match with a hamstring injury, but trained with the team on Thursday, and seemed in no pain while taking part in fielding drills.
If Maxwell is fit, he will walk into the XI and lend much-needed experience in the top order. Australia came unstuck against the spin duo of Ravindra Jadeja and R Ashwin at the Adelaide Oval, and both of them could get some purchase off the Melbourne Cricket Ground surface too. 

Shane Watson, the recalled allrounder, expected some help from the pitch for the tweakers. “Knowing how the wicket actually plays here, it might be a little bit tired compared to what it was a few games ago. The wicket might turn a little bit since it's the backend of the season. The world-class spinners that India have got will come into the game a bit more. And we certainly as a batting unit have to play better, much better than we played them in Adelaide.”
In the ODI played at the ground ten days back, Jadeja had been the most impressive bowler for India, getting some turn and bringing the side back into the match before Maxwell took Australia home with a brilliant knock. Both he and Ashwin should feature together this time, with India having struck a good balance in its playing XI in the first T20I, and having no reason to break a winning combination.

Ajinkya Rahane, who was forced to sit out of the Adelaide match with a split webbing in his right hand that hadn’t yet healed, will most likely be on the bench for this game too. He batted towards the end of India’s nets, and faced only throwdowns. Even if he is fully fit, it may be difficult to fit Rahane into the XI as MS Dhoni, the captain, indicated after the first match.
Australia will have to make some changes. With Warner missing, Shaun Marsh is the natural candidate to replace him at the top of the order. It might shuffle the pace attack too, with all of Shaun Tait, Kane Richardson and James Faulkner conceding more than 40 runs in their four-over quotas in Adelaide. Tait, recalled after nearly five years, was quick and hostile, but he was also unlucky and inaccurate. He had a chance put down and edges flying for runs, but also strayed in line. Having given him a recall, the selectors should perhaps persist with him for a few more matches, especially since he still retains the X-factor of being unplayable on his day.
However, Australia should look at making a place in the XI for John Hastings, who fronted up to lead the attack manfully in the ODIs and was consistently impressive.
Australia will also have to form a plan to curb Virat Kohli. The India vice-captain has been in sublime touch, and his match-winning, unbeaten 90 off 55 balls underpinned India’s march to a massive 188 for 3. Kohli looked in supreme form in the nets too, with hardly a ball not meeting the middle of the bat. “The way he bats, the amount of confidence he exudes on his fellow players, and the way he comes out and expresses himself – obviously that comes with the amount of performance you give on the field,” said Ashwin, describing how Kohli’s performance had lifted the team. “At the end of the day, what confidence you have as an individual is how you express yourself on the field. He is someone who always leads from the front and we don’t expect anything short of that from him too. If he fails, I think he’s still someone who will pick everyone up.”
Both teams will also have to deal with the common threat of the Melbourne weather. The square was put under covers on Thursday with a burst of heavy rain, and even though the clouds cleared by the afternoon and the sun was shining down, the covers remained in place. The forecast is for rain on Friday too. If the weather doesn’t dampen it, this could be another exciting encounter between the two teams. 

Teams (from):
Australia: Aaron Finch (capt), Shane Watson, Chris Lynn, Travis Head, Glenn Maxwell, Matthew Wade (wk), James Faulkner, John Hastings, Shaun Tait, Nathan Lyon, Kane Richardson, Scott Boland, Cameron Boyce, Shaun Marsh, Andrew Tye.
India: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni (capt, wk), Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Ashish Nehra, Rishi Dhawan, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Harbhajan Singh, Ajinkya Rahane, Umesh Yadav.

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