Having won the first Twenty20 International, hosts Australia will look to keep up the tempo to secure a morale-boosting series win against the second-ranked side in the format.
Australia v India
Melbourne Cricket Ground
Friday, 23 November 2018; 18:50 local, 08:20 GMT
Australia win by four runs by the DLS method!— ICC (@ICC) November 21, 2018
An excellent last over from Marcus Stoinis gets Australia over the line. He dismissed the dangermen Krunal Pandya and Dinesh Karthik. #AUSvIND FOLLOW 👇https://t.co/TpS5WMZxTPpic.twitter.com/vjP3MJfaKY
Australia's fortunes, across formats, has been on the downward slope in recent times – their last big win came in a T20I triangular series featuring New Zealand and England in February. Since then, Australia have struggled, the unavailability of David Warner and Steve Smith, as well as Cameron Bancroft, hasn't helped.
But Australia seem to ironing out their issues with the bat. In the first T20I in Brisbane, a number of their batsmen chipped in with solid contributions against arguably India's best limited-overs bowlers in Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Kuldeep Yadav.
Aaron Finch and Chris Lynn set the foundation at the top with a brisk 40-run stand. Glenn Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis too made big runs to take Australia to a truly challenging total.
The only hiccup for Australia was in their tackling of Yadav's left-arm wrist spin. They looked all out of sorts against his canny variations, unable to pick the googly. Both Finch and Lynn fell prey to him, and Australia will want to be better prepared against him.
India should be pretty happy with how their top bowlers performed, but equally concerned about the newcomers – Khaleel Ahmed and Krunal Pandya. After a great first spell, Ahmed began spraying the ball around and was taken apart, while Pandya never quite seemed to get into any rhythm at all – 55 runs were smashed off his four overs. It will be interesting to see whether India ring in changes in that department.
Australia's bowling remained a bit of a concern too. Leg-spinner Adam Zampa produced the goods with a spell of 2/22, but the quicks were all quite expensive. Australia will be particularly worried that right-arm quick Andrew Tye was taken for 47 runs off his three overs. As a bowler who is able to bowl a number of variations, he has the arsenal to keep batters quiet in T20Is, but his accuracy was poor. He will want to make amends.
Adam Zampa was the Player of the Match for his superb spell of 2/22 which helped Australia pick up a dramatic win over India in the first T20I of the three-match series.— ICC (@ICC) November 21, 2018
Barring Shikhar Dhawan, India's top-order batsmen had a rare off day. Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul and Virat Kohli were removed cheaply. Dhawan scored 76 before healthy efforts from Dinesh Karthik and Rishabh Pant took India to within four runs of victory. Pant has shown tremendous promise, but will need to make those starts count. Were he not dismissed for 20 with India in sight of victory, the outcome would probably have been different.
India have the artillery to fire back and level the series, and they're not too displeased with their efforst in the first game. "The way we played, it was an interesting game. Also, it was our first game (of the tour), so we'll learn to bowl better on these wickets," said Dhawan afterwards.
Australia, however, will hope to keep them quiet as they eye an elusive series win, one that will boost their confidence. "Things haven't gone our way, but we know we're still a good side," said Stoinis. Australia will be keen to give a good account of their quality again.
Marcus Stoinis (Australia): The all-rounder is shaping into a very reliable cog in the Australian set-up. He made an impact in both departments in the first game, scoring a fantastic 33* before chipping in with the key wicket of Karthik and then also getting rid of Pandya. He was a tad expensive, but Australia won't mind that if he continues getting the wickets.
Rohit Sharma (India): In the past, the opener has had a gala time in Australian conditions, and there's reason to believe that he will come into his own again despite a failure in the first game. His style of play benefits from the extra bounce of the Australian wickets, and if he gets going, together with Dhawan he could wreak havoc.
The onset of summer seems a bit delayed in Melbourne, with temperatures still looming at under 15ºC. There is also a possibility of showers marring the iconic MCG's first game of the international season. The pitch has generally been quite batting friendly in limited-overs cricket, and one can expect a lot of runs again.
Australia: Aaron Finch (c), Ashton Agar, Jason Behrendorff, Alex Carey (wk), Nathan Coulter-Nile, Chris Lynn, Glenn Maxwell, Ben McDermott, D'Arcy Short, Billy Stanlake, Marcus Stoinis, Andrew Tye, Adam Zampa
India: Virat Kohli (c), Khaleel Ahmed, Jasprit Bumrah, Yuzvendra Chahal, Shikhar Dhawan, Dinesh Karthik, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Krunal Pandya, Rishabh Pant (wk), Lokesh Rahul, Rohit Sharma, Kuldeep Yadav, Umesh Yadav