What is an Australian vs India series without a bit of controversy? All was jovial and fun till Yuzvendra Chahal took to the field in the second innings of the first T20I at Canberra to replace the concussed Ravindra Jadeja. Batting first, India were struggling and it took Ravindra Jadeja’s career-best T20I innings to help India post a competitive total of 161. He suffered a hamstring injury first while batting and was then hit on the helmet in the last over of India’s innings. That allowed India to call upon a wrist-spinner, Yuzvendra Chahal as a concussion substitute who went on to pick three important wickets to help India go 1-0 ahead in the T20I series and open a new discussion in cricket about the concussion substitute rule.
Overall, India were by far the better of the two teams and went on to clinch the series 2-1 against an injury-ridden Australian team. This series has set up the all-important Test series beautifully. The ODI honours went to the home team while the away team staged a strong comeback in the T20I series. It all comes down to red-ball cricket to decide the more dominant of the two. Here are five talking points from the Australia vs India T20I series.
T NATARAJAN IMPRESSES ON HIS T20I DEBUT
Thangarasu Natarajan’s journey to being an international cricketer has been nothing short of a blockbuster movie. Initially named as a net bowler for the series, Natarajan went on to make his ODI and T20I debut on this tour and his stocks in world cricket have risen substantially. There were high expectations from the left-arm pacer after coming from a good season in the Indian T20 League and Natarajan exceeded all expectations from him in the four matches he played on this tour. He finished the T20I series with six wickets at an economy of 6.91 and was the real find of the tour for Team India.
CHAHAL AND SUNDAR ADD VARIETY
Following an outstanding Indian T20 League season for both Yuzvendra Chahal and Washington Sundar, both were expected to do well in this T20I series. Chahal struggled in the ODI series and was dropped from the first T20I. He made a mark in the first T20I as a concussion substitute for Ravindra Jadeja and went on to pick the player of the match in that game. Sundar on the other hand was consistent throughout the series and looks like the future of Indian white-ball cricket.
MATTHEW WADE IS MORE THAN A HANDY REPLACEMENT
There’s something about Matthew Wade’s batting that goes under the radar for most parts. His selection in the team is always talked about but still, he manages to get the big runs his team needs in crunch situations. In the two opportunities he got at the top of the order, he managed to stack up two half-centuries including a match-winning 50-ball 83 in the final T20I. With David Warner coming back into the squad for the next T20I series, we reckon Matthew Wade should be given a chance at number three for Australia as Steven Smith’s record in T20 cricket isn’t the best.
INDIA’S MIDDLE ORDER LOOKS UNSETTLED
With Rohit Sharma missing from the squad, it was certain that KL Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan would open the innings in this series. That meant, India’s T20I middle-order wasn’t tried and tested at the highest level. It was a chance for someone like Sanju Samson, Shreyas Iyer or Manish Pandey to nail down on that position and become a mainstay in the Indian T20I team. Sadly, it didn’t work out for any of these players and the management is still unsure about its middle-order. Sanju Samson provided the small thrills like he usually does but nothing substantial. Shreyas Iyer played a match-winning cameo in the second T20I but was ordinary in the first and the last match. Manish Pandey was given just one chance and he couldn’t capitalise on it. Is it time for Suryakumar Yadav to finally get an India call-up?
HARDIK PANDYA IS INDIA’S BEST WHITE-BALL FINISHER
The man of the series, Hardik Pandya was magnificent with the bat throughout the limited-overs leg. This is the first time he has played as a specialist batsman in the side and he has done his reputation no harm. He was the match-winner India needed in the first two T20Is and his six-hitting ability is second to none. With Ravindra Jadeja and him in the squad, the finisher’s role is sorted for the team. As and when his bowling action gets remodelled, India will get the luxury of having more than five bowling options on the field and will get the much-needed balance in the squad.
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