India's love affair with the Manuka Oval in Canberra continued as they registered a facile win in the 1st T20I against Australia.
The game wasn't short of controversy or entertainment. Yuzvendra Chahal's 3-wicket haul after coming in as a concussion substitute for Ravindra Jadeja swung the contest in India's favour. T Natarajan and KL Rahul were the other players who impressed in the encounter, and although India had only 5 bowlers, they looked a balanced side on paper.
The Men in Blue might not look to change too many things from a winning combination, but you can never tell with Virat Kohli. Here are 2 changes - one of them forced - that India might make for the 2nd T20I against Australia.
India might replace Shami and Jadeja with Bumrah and Chahal
Mohammed Shami was the only weak link with the ball for India, as he conceded 46 runs in 4 very wayward overs. After being rested for the final ODI, the pacer was expected to lead the bowling attack in the absence of Jasprit Bumrah but miserably failed in this regard.
With Deepak Chahar and T Natarajan impressing, we might see India turn to their ace speedster in Jasprit Bumrah, who was rested, again. The 26-year-old shrugged off an indifferent calendar year to show some semblance of form in the final ODI, and the T20 format might just be what he needs to get back to his best.
We might also be able to see the much-awaited tandem of Bumrah and Natarajan at the death in the shortest format of the game. With Shami set to play in the upcoming Test series as well, another short period of rest might serve him well.
Ravindra Jadeja has been incredible for India lower down the order, and has scored runs in almost every game he has come out to bat for the team. The all-rounder has also contributed with the ball and in the field, and has firmly established himself as one of the first names on the teamsheet.
However, Jadeja has been ruled out of the remainder of the T20I series. After being hit on the head by a Mitchell Starc bouncer, the southpaw also had some trouble with his hamstring and didn't take to the field. He has been replaced by the star of the final ODI in Shardul Thakur, but it's unlikely that the pacer gets a look-in immediately.
A straightforward decision for India will be to include the star of the 1st T20I, Yuzvendra Chahal, in his place. This might leave them slightly thin in the batting department, but with Chahar capable of wielding the willow, the pros would far outweigh the cons.
The top-order batsmen - Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Sanju Samson and Manish Pandey - are also bound to come good, and India should have enough firepower to put on (or chase) a big total.
Apart from these two changes, the only serious question for India is the place of Pandey. The Karnataka batsman looked very scratchy in the 1st T20I, and scored 2 off 8 balls before offering a simple catch in the circle. Shreyas Iyer, who performed well in the last T20I series India played earlier this year against New Zealand, is a possible candidate.
However, Pandey's excellent record in T20I cricket and the fact that Samson would have to move down to No. 5 if Iyer plays should convince the team management to give the 31-year-old another chance.
The 2nd T20I between India and Australia will be played at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Sunday.