After slumping to four successive defeats to start their tour Down Under, India now have the bit between their teeth and a series victory within their sights. Having got a consolation victory at the climax of a disappointing one-day series, India got their three-match Twenty20 series off to an ideal start with a comprehensive 37-run win over Australia in Adelaide on Tuesday.
With the start of the World Twenty20 on Indian soil now less than two months’ away, a series triumph over one of the favorites to lift the trophy would be most welcome preparation. It would be a significant morale boost, too, after what has been a trying period for India in both forms of limited-overs cricket.
At the Adelaide Oval on Tuesday, Virat Kohli inspired the team to victory when striking 90 off of just 55 balls. The innings was his fourth in excess of 90 in his six matches in Australia. And the Test captain garnered the headlines, too, with his fired-up reaction when he caught a misjudged shot from Steve Smith. The Australia captain had been mic’d up and talking to the local commentary team while at the crease, something which appeared to aggrieve Kohli judging by his mimicking of Smith mouthing off as he walked back to the locker room. It was something that Smith felt was unnecessary.
“He gets pretty emotional out there, doesn't he?” Smith said, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. “I don't think you need to do that kind of thing when someone gets out. It's fine to have a little bit of banter when you're out in the field, but when someone is out I don't think that's really on.”
The incident certainly ratchets up the always simmering tension between the two sides ahead of what could well be a tussle for World Twenty20 glory in just a few weeks’ time. Ahead of the second T20 contest at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Friday, India spinner Ravichandran Ashwin has stated that Kohli’s attitude, as well as his batting, has a major positive impact on the side.
“It is [fun to watch him]),” Ashwin said in his pre-match press conference. “The way he bats, and the amount of confidence he exudes on his fellow players, and the way he comes out and expresses himself, obviously that comes with the amount of performance you give on the field. At the end of the day, what confidence you have as an individual is how you express yourself on the field. He is someone who always leads from the front and we don't expect anything short of that from him. If he fails, I think he's still someone who will pick everyone up.”
After such an impressive performance in Adelaide, which included another strong outing from young pace bowler Jasprit Bumrah, India are unlikely to make any changes to their lineup for Friday. It is a different story for Australia, with Smith and opener David Warner having departed the squad to prepare for next month’s tour of New Zealand. But coming back into the party after injury is all-rounder Glenn Maxwell, while the other vacant spot is likely to be taken by Shaun Marsh. After the match at the MCG, the team’s series schedule will conclude in Sydney on Sunday.
Match time: 3:38 a.m. EST
TV channel: Willow TV