Australia – Now staring down the barrel of a 3-0 T20 series whitewash, the Aussies might point to the fact that Aaron Finch, David Warner, Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood were missing on Sunday night in a crunch game it lost at the death. But similarly, India might say that Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Ravi Jadeja, too, were on the sidelines. The fact is, the two sides are very evenly split in the game’s shortest format, and these clashes often come down to one or two big individual performances. On Sunday it was exactly that, as Hardik Pandya wrestled the momentum back from Australia to single-handedly drive India to victory.
There are positives, though, for the Aussies to take into this third and final T20. Matthew Wade was brilliant in his first game as national captain, while Moises Henriques continues to show the value of experience in T20 cricket. He has been the ‘find’ of the summer to date, in as much as a player who made his international debut in 2009 can constitute a surprise packet.
With the wholesale changes already made to the Australian XI in the last two games, it’s difficult to predict what side might line up on Tuesday night. Finch is a chance to return and should he do so, D’Arcy Short is likely to make way. The selectors are also likely to keep Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc (in addition to Pat Cummins) on the sidelines ahead of a big Test summer. As such AJ Tye, Daniel Sams and Sean Abbott could make up the seam attack again.
India – Virat Kohli will be heartened by India’s ability to emerge on top in two tight games this T20 series. With wins by 11 runs and six wickets (or, more accurately, two balls to spare) respectively, it’s positive signs for the nation preparing to host the T20 World Cup in less than 12 months’ time. And with new talent like T Natarajan leading the line, it’s becoming increasingly clear India could go into the tournament with more depth than any other nation.
Game 2 was the highest-rating cricket match on Australian subscription television history, and while this match is ostensibly a dead rubber, there’s still significant interest. Especially amongst Indian fans, with the prospect of whitewashing Australia in a T20 series for just the third time ever. Team-wise, it’s similarly difficult to see what direction the Indian selectors will go, but there’s little reason for them to return Bumrah and Shami in the same way they would if this clash was a series decider. Expect few changes.
Betting – As referenced in the first two games, on individual talent alone India edges the home side. And given Australia’s stars are likely to remain out, I’m tipping the tourists will claim the series whitewash on Tuesday night.
Wade was superb with the bat in Game 2 and given his ability to make use of the power play, he remains a strong top runscorer option for the Aussies. Adam Zampa’s stocks continue to rise each time he pulls on an Australian shirt, and is similarly a strong tip with the ball.
For the tourists, it’s hard to look past Pandya as their top runscorer. But given how deep he bats, I’m going to. My tip is Shikhar Dhawan, who is hitting the ball extremely well and represents some value. With the ball, Natarajan has been superb in his first two T20 games in Indian colours and is a strong wicket-taker option.