Hyderabad: India and Australia head into the T20 series final 1- 1 with the trophy at stake here on Sunday at the lucky Uppal stadium, where India has won most matches, in the shadow of the World Cup that starts on October 16.
The fans are hungry for real action, the last international — a T20 against the West Indies — having been played in 2019.
In their cheers for every Virat Kohli six or Jasprit Bumrah wicket will be sadness at the events of last Thursday when eight of their comrades were injured in a botch-up by the HCA that attracted national infamy.
All or nothing
India and Australia have everything to play for in their bid to shine after the sun sets on Sunday. The series-deciding third T20 at the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium here promises to provide the sparks as heavyweights clash in the all-important game.
Laying hands on the coveted trophy will be on top of team heads Rohit Sharma and Aaron Finch, moreso with the T20 World Cup to be played in Australia next month. Brownie points do matter before the cake.
Having shown resilience to claw back into the series with a dominant win in Nagpur after being mauled in the opener at Mohali, the hosts would be geared up to step on the accelerator and pull ahead in the final stretch.
Given this series and the one coming up against South Africa at home are the final rounds of preparation for the World Cup, the Blues would be keen to tune the team up for the big one.
The machine does not look very well-oiled though, with key players firing in fits and starts and missing a beat or two once too often.
Lack of consistency in the batting department is a concern. The top three —K. L. Rahul, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli — haven’t really taken off together. India would be off to a flier if that happens. Suryakumar Yadav and Hardik Pandya could then provide stability in the middle before revving it up with Dinesh Karthik towards the end.
The bowling blues continue. Barring left-arm spinner Axar Patel, no one has taken more than two wickets in the series so far. The death bowlers are gasping. Pacer Harshal Patel has conceded a whopping 81 in the six overs he bowled in two games and hasn’t taken a wicket. Bhuvneshwar Kumar has been expensive as well at Mohali, the only match he has played. He couldn’t swing a wicket either.
Against this background, yorker specialist Jasprit Bumrah’s return raises hopes for the bowling brigade. ‘Boom’ did send down his thunderbolts to telling effect in the curtailed contest in Nagpur and would be eager to go the whole hog in Hyderabad.
There are batting botch- ups in the Australian camp too. The biggest is the one they call The Big Show.
Glenn Maxwell has lasted only four balls in the two matches so far and has scored just a run. He would be keen to get out of the rut and contribute to the team’s cause. Finch and Steve Smith are the others who need to buck up even as the aggressive Matthew Wade has been striking the ball with authority.
The Australian bowlers also do not look in top gear, having leaked quite a few runs in both games. They would be eager to plug the gaps and tap wickets to curtail run flow in the final bow.