IND vs AUS 2022: Kohli's form to Axar stepping up, 3 takeaways from India's series win
The Indian Cricket Team have completed another bilateral series win under the leadership of Rohit Sharma. They clinched the decider of the three-match T20I series against Australia on Sunday, September 25 to win the series 2-1.
The hosts won the final T20I in Hyderabad by six wickets, making it nine consecutive bilateral series wins for the Indian captain since he took over.
India will next play a three-match T20I series against South Africa before heading Down Under for the T20 World Cup.
The series win against Australia had plenty of takeaways for the Indian side. Here, we take a look at three major takeaways from the series win.
#1 Axar Patel has stepped up to the plate in Ravindra Jadeja's absence
Ravindra Jadeja was ruled out of the T20 World Cup after suffering a knee injury in the Asia Cup last month. It seemed like the injury to India's supreme all-rounder will leave a gaping hole in the side but his absence hasn't been felt as much.
However, Axar Patel has slotted in seamlessly as a like-for-like replacement, stamping his authority on the side as a worthy replacement. Despite having an ordinary IPL, the Delhi Capitals all-rounder has been superb with the ball in this series.
Axar snapped up the Player of the Series award against Australia, picking up eight wickets at an economy rate of just 6.3. His bowling was a huge plus in a series that witnessed high-scoring contests.
While he may not be as effective as Jadeja with the bat, the 28-year-old has certainly worked on his batting to be a handy addition to the side. The team will hope that he can continue to deliver these performances with the T20 World Cup around the corner.
#2 Virat Kohli is showing signs of getting back to his best form
Regardless of the format or the situation, the spotlight is usually on Virat Kohli when he's in the middle. One of India's best batters ever was going through a lean patch in recent times before finally overcoming the dip in form in the Asia Cup 2022.
The Delhi batter scored a fluent century against Afghanistan in the final game of the tournament, which was a dead rubber. The way he took on Rashid Khan and co. to end his long awaited century drought was a sight for sore eyes and a monkey off his back as well.
He was the second-highest top scorer in the 2022 Asia Cup with 276 runs, behind Pakistan's Mohammad Rizwan, who scored 281 runs.
In the series against Australia, Kohli scored 76 runs, including a half-century in the decider to ensure that his side got over the line. Some might argue that Kohli is still far from his best. However, his performance against the likes of Rashid Khan and Adam Zampa will give the team management and the player a lot of confidence heading into a major tournament.
#3 India's death bowling is still a worry
In the absence of Jasprit Bumrah, there have been question marks about India's death bowling. In his absence, the team had to rely on Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Harshal Patel at the backend of the innings. The two bowlers are known for their skills at the death but they were both on the receiving end of some punishment from the Australian batters.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar conceded 91 runs in the series at an economy rate of 13, taking only one wicket. He was dismantled by Cameron Green at the top of the order, while he also struggled to nail his yorkers at the death in the final match.
Harshal Patel conceded 99 runs in three matches at an economy rate of 12.38, only taking a single wicket. In the side for his usually reliable death bowling, the Royal Challengers Bangalore pacer took a beating at the hands of the Aussies.
While Jasprit Bumrah was a bit rusty after returning from injury, he too conceded runs at an economy rate of over 12. India's struggles to close out an innings with the ball might be one of the key reasons why they aren't a great side while defending totals.
With not long to go before the T20 World Cup, the team management has been vocal about backing their players. However, it might not be a surprise if Arshdeep Singh finds himself in the mix because of his skill and ability at the backend of an innings.