Melbourne: On a high after a dominating the show in the first Twenty20 International, India will aim to hold on to their current form and, most importantly, seal the three-match series when they face Australia in the second match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground here on Friday.
Having lost the One-Day International (ODI) 1-4, the visitors came back strongly in the first match of the shortest format of the game to win it by 37 runs and take a 1-0 lead.
Both the batsman and the bowlers delivered when it mattered most to give India the much needed win in the important series before the World T20 in March-April.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men will aim to take the series on Friday and try to experiment with their squad in the third match in Sydney on Sunday.
Virat Kohli who is rightly the most successful batsman so far in the series Down Under will once again look to exploit the home side bowlers after his quickfire unbeaten 90 in the first match which helped India post a challenging score on the board.
The vice-captain shared a 134-run stand for the third wicket with Suresh Raina, who was playing his first match after missing out on the ODI squad. The Uttar left-hander scored 41 and will look to continue to impress as he not only bids to retain his place in the T20I team but only to regain his lost slot in the ODI side.
Another player, who will be in focus is Yuvraj Singh, who didn’t get to bat in the first ODI. The veteran southpaw turned out for India after a gap of more than 18 months and he will look to make the most of the opportunity before the World T20 at home in March.
Yuvraj and Raina will add more firepower to the in-form trio Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and Kohli who have been among runs recently.
The change in format worked well for the Indian pace bowlers after they got sure hammering in the ODIs.
Experienced Ashish Nehra, young Jasprit Bumrah and Hardik Pandya bowled well in tandem to defend a challenging total.
The trio was well supported by spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja. With all the players delivering in the first outing, Dhoni is likely to go ahead with the same squad and will aim to bag the series.
India can claim the top spot in the International Cricket Council (ICC) T20I rankings if they make a clean sweep of the series, which could serve as an added motivation for the Dhoni-led side.
On the other hand, Australia, after a successful ODI campaign, went short of fuel in the T20I opener. Both bowlers and batsmen failed to make an impact in a batting friendly Adelaide wicket.
On Saturday, the home side will be without star batsmen David Warner and Steve Smith, who are being rested ahead of the New Zealand tour next month.
But hard-hitting batsman Glenn Maxwell, who missed the opener, is most likely to return to fill in the middle order gap.
His presence will give the hosts an added boost. Experienced all-rounder Shane Watson who starred with the ball in the first match will be someone to watch out for again.
Veteran pacer Shaun Tait after going for runs in the first match will look to come back strong on Friday.