India v Australia
Wednesday 27 February, 13:30
India a letdown again
India find themselves in familiar territory. They are 1-0 down against an Australia team they were expected to dominate. In the T20 and ODI series respectively down under in November and January they were able to recover. Can they do it a third time?
Complacency was blamed on opening defeats in those formats. And it looked like another complacent effort with the bat in Visakhapatnam. They could only post 126 from 80 for two in the tenth. KL Rahul, with a fifty, and Virat Kohli had given them a solid platform.
MS Dhoni came in for criticism. After reinforcing his reputation after some poor efforts in Australia the jury has gone out again on his finishing powers. In recording 29 off 37 balls, he recorded the second lowest strike rate for an Indian for an innings of 35 balls or more. Sure, the wicket may have been stodgy but that is unacceptable.
Jasprit Bumrah nearly won it for them, though. The ace death bowler conceded only two off the penultimate over with 16 required, sending back Peter Handscomb and Nathan Coultner-Nile.
Aussies hold on
It was perhaps not a surprise that Australia got into a panic about chasing a small total. With the game seemingly won at the break, the ability of three Melbourne Stars players to get into muddle after their Big Bash final meltdown should not have been underestimated.
Cruising at 89 for two in the 14th, Australia collapsed with Glenn Maxwell, a Star of course, sparking it. They should have lost, as Maxwell, admitted, but Pat Cummins and Jhye Richardson clobbered last-gasp runs when they had no right.
Nathan Coulter-Nile had set them up. His three wickets to rip the heart from India's first dig earned him the man of the match. But Cummins, bowling third change, was exceptional in conceding just 19 off his four. What a player to be able to call on during the middle of an innings.
Expect batters to dominate
There have been only five T20 internationals played at the Chinnaswamy but those matches do not reflect its reputation earned in franchise cricket. First-innings scores have been low from the first game in 2012: 133-122-156-146. The last game played there in 2017 produced a total we're used to seeing; India's 202 against England. In domestic cricket the ground is known as one of the best in the world for batting. It has an average of 170 and one of the highest boundary percentages.
Just shy of 48% of team bust 170 and 40% bust 180. If we can get even money, then, about the former being breached on the first-innings runs market then all is good. More than 200 has been chased four times and there is a slight toss bias for the team batting second.
If you've got big pockets the 1/3 that a fifty being scored (Sportsbook) in the first dig looks a shoo-in. The 9s that a ton is scored could well be a cracking bet.
Hosts can take it in a chase
India are 1.574/7 and Australia 2.707/4. We find it hard to digest a consecutive defeat for India (only happened once before at home in a two-team series) but on such a road they are in danger. The pitch is a leveller.
They will be most comfortable chasing and we should be confident that their strongest suit will see them home. We would be happy to bet them to get anything up to 190 here and we'll get significantly better odds at the break with a strong Aussie effort.
Kohli to be backed
This is Kohli's home ground in IPL so there will be many expecting him to motor to top India bat. He is 5/2 (Betfair Sportsbook). Rohit Sharma is 13/5. Rahul looks big at 7/2 considering he is opening the batting and is one of the highest-rated batters in the world.
Last time we talked up Marcus Stoinis for top-bat honours reckoning he would open. We were right. But also wrong. Stoinis opened and failed. He is 16/5 (Sportsbook). The wicket could be to the liking of D'Arcy Short, though. He should be able to throw caution to the win and he gets 11/4 jolly status.