India's floundering top order overdue
February 3, Melbourne
Start time 1935 (0835 GMT)
A change of formats seems to have not helped India, who struggled in the first Twenty20 at Stadium Australia on Wednesday night. Again it was a case of the top order failing to give the side a good start, and the batting will need to improve if they are to avoid a 2-0 defeat. Australia's new-look outfit, which has more of a Twenty20 specialist feel than any side they have previously fielded, displayed enthusiasm and talent, and they worked well together under the captain, George Bailey. The second and final Twenty20 at the MCG gives Bailey an opportunity to secure a series win in his first series as Australia's leader.
Australia relied heavily on spin in Sydney, and it was a ploy that slowed India's scoring to the point that they were unable to fight their way back into the chase. The MCG might offer a little more for the fast men, and it also offers the chance for an enormous crowd after a Sydney record of 59,659 turned out for the first game. A Friday night game in Melbourne means people can wander down to Jolimont after work and take in the action, and far more will be expected at this match than at the first ODI that follows on Sunday, also at the MCG.
Australia WLWLL (Most recent first)
In the spotlight
Matthew Wade could hardly have timed his Man-of-the-Match performance better. At a time when an out-of-form Brad Haddin has been told to rest by Cricket Australia, Wade has the Twenty20s and at least the first three ODIs to push his case for greater honours. He played some fine shots in his 72 from 43 balls in Sydney, and will be looking to build on that with another strong display on Friday.
It is hard not to feel for Rohit Sharma, who toured for a month with the Test squad without getting an opportunity, and then fell for a golden duck when he was given a chance in the first Twenty20. If anyone could use rust as an excuse, it was him. It will be interesting to see how he responds should he be given another opportunity.
Selectors are generally reluctant to change a winning side, but with so few matches before the World Twenty20 later this year, they are also keen to see as many players in action as possible. Aaron Finch did not play the first game and could come in at his home ground, as may Clint McKay. Shaun Marsh is a known quantity and the selectors may prefer to leave him on the sidelines and give Travis Birt another chance. It is, of course, all conjecture: the selectors might aim for a strong 2-0 series win by choosing the same XI.
Australia (possible) 1 David Warner, 2 Matthew Wade (wk), 3 Travis Birt, 4 David Hussey, 5 George Bailey (capt), 6 Aaron Finch, 7 Mitchell Marsh, 8 Daniel Christian, 9 Brad Hogg, 10 Brett Lee, 11 Clint McKay.
Who knows what India's selectors will do after the loss in Sydney. Irfan Pathan looms as one potential inclusion, perhaps for Ravindra Jadeja, but with such a big squad, anything is possible. Given the MCG's long boundaries, they are likely to persist with two spinners.
India (possible) 1 Virender Sehwag, 2 Gautam Gambhir, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Suresh Raina, 5 Rohit Sharma, 6 MS Dhoni (capt & wk), 7 Irfan Pathan, 8 R Ashwin, 9 Praveen Kumar, 10 Vinay Kumar, 11 Rahul Sharma.
Pitch and conditions
The drop-in pitches at the MCG are not renowned for pace, but the local batsman David Hussey expects "a very good batting wicket, a fast wicket". The forecast for Melbourne is a sunny day with a high temperature of 27C.
Stats and trivia
- Matthew Wade has played three Twenty20s for Australia and already has a Man-of-the-Match award, but is yet to take a catch behind the stumps - mainly because none have come his way.
- Should India lose at the MCG it will equal their longest losing streak in Twenty20 internationals - four.
"I thought the Indians came out and fielded and bowled particularly well early. I just thought our bowling and fielding trumped theirs."
David Hussey on Wednesday's win
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here