By V.N. Prasad
T-20 cricket is akin to fireworks during Diwali. In local connotation we term T-20 as “CHINNI-KOLU” game where we witness “READY-BEEEES” format. So, with the traditional Diwali round the corner, this T-20 series we hope to enjoy “CRACKERS” show rather than “PUSS” show and blaming it on inclement conditions. The momentum of ODI victory is sure to rub into T-20 matches on the 7th, 10th and 13th. Beyond doubts, the 1.32 billion of the country looks forward to a white wash.
But, beware. OZs have the capacity to strike back. Seniors are a part of IPL in long years. They are accustomed to Indian pitches and weather conditions and therefore have the potential to strike in T-20 format. A wounded tiger is more dangerous. Lean patches are common to players and teams. The statement ‘Form is temporary and class is permanent’ cannot be ignored while analysing the capacity of OZs. The chocolate faced skipper — and a find of the IPL — Steve Smith is an extraordinary batsman. On his day, Finch can destroy any bowler. Warner has an aggregate of over 4,000 runs at an average of 40. Maxwell has a strike rate of 164. Individually they have all excelled in IPL; over the years. They need to gel as a unit to make the series competitive. We need good contest — winning or losing notwithstanding.
Here arises the sharp distinction between ‘Conviction’ and ‘Hope.’ Whereas Virat can dream of a whitewash with conviction, Smith will hope to carry at least one trophy back home. Virat has 90*, 59*, 50 and 82* in the last 4 innings against the OZs and has every reason to enjoy high degree of confidence. His aggression will be the driving force for India as they seek to continue their dominance. For Australia, it will take a lot to reverse their losing trend. As is the case in every encounter — be it country side cricket or international encounter — the opening partnership is the key to the team’s success. Warner-Finch combo should ensure solid opening partnerships.
Our team has inherent strength. Combination of experience and youth is well-blent. In the midst of this, it is hard to accept any logic for the inclusion of Nehra and Dinesh Karthik in the team. At 39, Nehra may raise brows but we have seamers who are doing it. Dinesh has the class but is highly inconsistent. Blooding in youngsters will do more good in preparation for 2019 World Cup. I wish rationality crept into selectors thinking. Core competence in both batting and bowling is extremely good in us. That said, I would bet a 2-1 victory to the men in blue.
Warner and Finch will provide the solid foundation. Smith will reinvent himself. Maxwell will entertain masses with huge sixes, their pacers will continue to struggle a bit.
On our side, Rohit is likely to carry the momentum forward, Shikar will struggle a bit on account of lack of continuity, Virat is more likely to remember his last 4 records of T-20 against the OZs; than the ODIs; and improve on his records, Hardhik, Manish and Kedar look convincing, MSD is not likely to bat much, pendulum of Bhuvi-Bumrah combo will swing between penetration and runs. Chahal-Kuldeep will find edges, Hardhik will provide crucial break through and Kedar’s 5 foot 2 inches frame in low arm action will continue to amuse the spectators, TV viewers and shock the OZs; unless they dance down and smack him.
On an average, we may expect scores between 170 and 180; provided wickets are hard and pacy. If we find early puffs, we may reconcile to 160 odd. The Nation wishes Virat and Co. all the best. Best to Smith and Co. too to resurrect and provide good contests.