Australia will need to regroup quickly ahead of its second Twenty20 International against India in Guwahati. A loss at the Barsapara Cricket Stadium, which will host its first-ever international game on Tuesday (October 10), will mean India winning the T20I series too, on the back of a 4-1 triumph in the One-Day Internationals.
To do that, the visiting team will have to shrug aside the absence of Steven Smith, the regular captain. Smith was ruled out of the T20Is after hurting his shoulder in the fifth ODI.
That has thrust David Warner, the vice-captain, into the hot seat. And it is becoming uncomfortably hot as there seems to be no easy answers on what Australia needs to do to stop India. So far, the team has won only one ODI, in Bangalore in a high-scoring game.
India has been several notches above Australia in all departments. The batsmen are confident and in form. There are a few warming the bench that could be just as good if given a shot. The bowling has been excellent too, with everyone executing their plans, and with Australia's middle order unable to cope, the bowlers have been made to look even more impressive. Add to that India's fielding, which has been largely on the money, and you have a team that will take some doing to beat.
It's true several visiting teams have struggled on Indian shores. But to turn that around, this Australian team will have to rethink a style of batting that has so far been high-risk, low-reward.
"Everyone becomes frustrated with why it happens," said Warner ahead of the match on Monday. "No one means to get out There are always reasons about why it happens. People talk about pressure, people talk about having two batsmen in and two batsmen getting out. When we do well, we do very, very well."
The problem of course, has been that Australia is not doing well.
But, if the visiting side is going to stick to what works, it surely will draft in Marcus Stoinis into the playing XI immediately. Stoinis, who was named Smith’s replacement, has been in good form in the last four ODIs, after a cheap dismissal in the first match. In three of those games, he's managed to remain not out. He had not yet arrived during the first T20I in Ranchi, but he is available now, which will come as a big relief.
It was hard to judge how Australia's bowlers fared in the first T20I, which India won by nine wickets on DLS, because the target was reduced to 48 in a six-over innings.
Jason Behrendorff's debut lasted all of one over, and afforded the full quota of four, he should do better. Andrew Tye, who has had success playing in the Indian Premier League earlier this year, remains one to watch.
And shining like a beacon was Nathan Coulter-Nile. The pacer, spearheading the attack in the absence of both Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins, has built on his IPL success and consistently troubled the Indian batsmen, though the entire attack could do more given more runs to work with.
The Guwahati crowd won't mind that too much, though, and will desperately hope that neither Australia nor rain play party-poopers on Tuesday.
India: Virat Kohli (capt), Rohit Sharma (vice-capt), Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, Dinesh Karthik, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ashish Nehra, Axar Patel.
Australia: David Warner (capt), Jason Behrendorff, Marcus Stoinis, Dan Christian, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Aaron Finch, Travis Head, Moises Henriques, Glenn Maxwell, Tim Paine (wk), Kane Richardson, Adam Zampa, Andrew Tye.