India managed to close the gaps in Nagpur to tie the three-game series with a comprehensive win in the eight-to-one contest. But they will need their bowlers, especially Harshal and Chahal, to overcome their struggles ahead of the T20 World Cup.
India had gotten off to an electric start in the last game with Axar Patel firing a fiery two-man spell that included a few wickets, but they struggled late in the innings.
While Jasprit Bumrah is sure to take responsibility, senior sailor Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s poor performance during the kills is a real concern. He struggled in the Asian Cup and in the opener against Australia.
He was dropped for the second T20, perhaps, because skipper Rohit Sharma felt he only needed four bowlers for the eight overs, but Bhuvneshwar’s form is worrying.
Death specialist Harshal, who is returning from injury, has also failed to inspire confidence and may need a few more games to find his groove.
The average right-arm pacer, who relies on his swings to be effective, has conceded 81 runs in his six overs at a save rate of 13.50 and is the most expensive bowler in the series. He struggled to do his laps well, remaining without a wicket.
India rely on their mid-over spinners and while Axar was a big positive, Chahal faltered. He made plenty of runs in the Asian Cup and the trend continued against Australia.
India will however breathe a sigh of relief as Bumrah was his best vintage, showing no signs of rust after returning from his back injury.
In the batting department, the famous first order comprising of Rohit, KL Rahul and Virat Kohli needs to be more consistent. The trio hasn’t fired in unison for a while.
Suryakumar Yadav has also been uneven in recent games with Hardik Pandya producing winning performances.
Another flaw in the Indian batting armor is leg rotation. They continued to struggle against the leggies and Adam Zampa used that weakness well.
Dinesh Karthik, who played his part as a finisher to perfection in the previous game, should get more playing time.
Skipper Rohit would also like to give Axar, who similarly replaces the injured Ravindra Jadeja, a try with the bat to see how the all-rounder performs in tough situations. Moreover, he is the only southpaw in the side apart from Rishabh Pant.
Australians, meanwhile, would also be concerned about their bowling.
After dominating India in the first game, the Aussies were on the receiving end in the second game, eventually losing by a massive six wickets. While Aaron Finch and Matthew Wade managed to put points on the board, their bowling department failed miserably once again.
In the absence of injured Nathan Elis, pacers Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Daniel Sams were down more than 11 points. The versatile Cameron Green also cost a lot.
Wade has been brilliant with the willow but with a World Cup to defend in his backyard, the Australian team’s management would like striker Glenn Maxwell, who has scored just one run in two games, to get back in shape.
Next Sunday, both teams will be looking to iron out the cracks in their armor and gain the upper hand, as a series win this close to the World Cup will be a real moral boost.
Teams from: Australia: Aaron Finch (C), Sean Abbott, Ashton Agar, Pat Cummins, Tim David, Nathan Ellis, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Josh Inglis, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, Daniel Sams, Steve Smith, Matthew Wade, Adam Zampa.
India: Rohit Sharma (C), KL Rahul (vc), Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Deepak Hooda, Rishabh Pant, Dinesh Karthik, Hardik Pandya, Ravichandran Ashwin, Yuzvendra Chahal, Axar Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Harshal Patel, Deepak Chahar, Jasprit Bumrah, Umesh Yadav.