India will play Australia in the second T20I at Nagpur on Friday, September 23rd. The match is scheduled to begin at 5 pm local time.
The home side are looking for an improved performance, especially from their bowlers and fielders after what happened in Mohali on Tuesday night. Despite a fine batting performance, they failed to defend a total of 200 at home for the second time in a year.
And, despite being the number one-ranked T20I side currently, after the disappointment of the Asia Cup, the side, and Rohit Sharma, their captain, finds themselves under real pressure right now.
Another defeat and social media in India will go into real meltdown.
Bowling and fielding deficiencies
The first match in Mohali revealed some real deficiencies when it comes to the Indian bowling and fielding, and there will be concerns about the number of runs conceded by the fast bowling pair of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Harshal Patel, whilst spinner Deepak Chahal struggled to exercise any control.
Once again, it was underlined what a big loss the injured Ravindra Jadeja is to India, because of his all-round contribution.
The fielding also was not up to scratch, and errors saw too many cheap runs conceded.
Bumrah must play
Although Jasprit Bumrah is now fit again, he did not feature in Mohali, a decision in retrospect that seems ill-judged. Unless there are still undisclosed concerns about his back, then he must play in this game. The issue is who plays with him. India were looking to the experienced Kumar to be his main strike partner at the World Cup, but if he continues to concede lots of runs in the death overs, that may be a luxury they cannot afford.
In that case, it may be down to either Axar Patel or Harshal, who came in for his own fair share of punishment in Mohali. Axar was by far the best of the bowlers on Tuesday, taking 3 wickets and conceding 17 runs, but this was just his 15th T20I for India. Does he have the experience to lead the attack in a World Cup?
There may be a temptation to play a spinner in this match, with both Yuzvendra Chahal and Ravichandran Ashwin in the squad. The question is whether this is the best preparation for the World Cup which is being played in Australia, where the wickets are hard and fast and more suited to seam bowling.
Rahul and Pandya plus points
There were plus points from Tuesday, though, particularly from a batting perspective, for India. KL Rahul helped answer his critics, who had questioned his place at the top of the order, with a half-century, whilst Hardik Pandya provided another demonstration of what a destructive finisher he can be with a fine innings of 71 not out.
Previous record in Nagpur
India have played four previous T20I matches on this ground, winning and losing two of them. Australia, on the other hand, have never played here before.
Australia in buoyant mood
Australia will be in buoyant mood after what happened on Tuesday, knowing that even with a weakened squad, they could still cope with the pressure of having to chase down a big score.
If they return from India having won the series, then their status as World Cup favourites will be underlined.
Traditionally the pitch in Nagpur offers some help to both the batters and the bowlers, but batting first is definitely an advantage because the surface tends to slow down the longer the match continues.
The average second innings score is just 128, so the toss may be decisive.
Although there could be thunder showers on the morning of the match, these are expected to have cleared by the time that the game starts and no interruptions to play are expected.
Simply put, India must win. The side was already under pressure following their relative underperformance at the Asia Cup and defeat to Australia in this series would just ratchet that up to near hysteria levels.
They will be hoping that the return of Bumrah brings some much-needed bowling control to the side and that their fielding matches the potency of their batting.
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