India eye series sweep to cap off tour
Sunday, January 31, 2016
Start time 1938 local (0838 GMT)
Friday was a good day for India. In the afternoon, their women's team wrapped up their first ever bilateral series win against Australia in any format, and in the evening their men completed a second T20 victory to ensure their first series win in Australia in any format since they won the 2007-08 tri-series. On Sunday, it could be clean-sweep time. It would be the perfect way for India to depart Australia after the disappointment of losing the ODI series. After the win in Melbourne, MS Dhoni played down the possibility that India might use the dead rubber in Sydney to experiment with their side ahead of a World T20, but Australia have no choice but to make changes.
In a case of divided loyalties, Australia have sent several players to New Zealand to prepare for the ODI series that starts there on Wednesday. That means none of Steven Smith, David Warner, John Hastings, Kane Richardson or Matthew Wade will be available for Sunday's T20. Just as significantly, they will be without their captain Aaron Finch, who injured his hamstring during the loss in Melbourne. The short-term question was who would captain the side, with Shane Watson confirmed as the answer on Saturday, but the long-term worry is whether Finch's injury is serious enough to put him in any doubt for March's World T20 in India.
The Australians started this series with plenty of questions ahead of the World T20 in India, given that they had played only one T20 international last year. So far, they have found few answers. Chris Lynn has struggled against spin, which hardly augurs well for the Indian conditions, while Nathan Lyon has bowled only one over in this series for 15 runs. Shaun Tait also endured his least economical T20 international in Adelaide, hardly the comeback the selectors were hoping for. And now Finch's injury adds another worry.
Australia: LLLWW (last five completed matches, most recent first)
In the spotlight
T20 is not the format in which most observers would have expected Cameron Bancroft to make his international debut. A technically correct batsman, who the selectors view as a future Test opener, Bancroft is also a part-time wicketkeeper who took the gloves for Perth Scorchers in the BBL this summer and it is this role that has meant he can squeeze into the side in place of Matthew Wade. Whether Bancroft can score quickly enough to be an effective T20 international batsman remains to be seen.
To watch Jasprit Bumrah's stiff-armed bowling from side-on during his delivery stride, you'd swear he was a clock and the time was a quarter to one. But Bumrah is certainly effective and has proven difficult for the Australian batsmen to get away during these T20s; he is the leading wicket taker from either side so far in the series with five dismissals at an average of 12.00. India have certainly found a candidate for their home World T20 campaign.
Usman Khawaja has joined the squad to cover for the injured Finch, though with Travis Head also in the squad there is no guarantee Khawaja will make his T20 international debut. Bancroft is in to replace Wade, who has gone to New Zealand. The absence of Hastings and Richardson means Tait may return.
Australia (possible) 1 Shaun Marsh, 2 Shane Watson (capt), 3 Chris Lynn, 4 Glenn Maxwell, 5 Usman Khawaja/Travis Head, 6 Cameron Bancroft (wk), 7 James Faulkner, 8 Andrew Tye, 9 Nathan Lyon/Cameron Boyce, 10 Scott Boland, 11 Shaun Tait.
India have used the same XI in both wins so far, and could yet go through the series unchanged.
India (possible) 1 Shikhar Dhawan, 2 Rohit Sharma, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 MS Dhoni (capt & wk), 5 Suresh Raina, 6 Yuvraj Singh, 7 Hardik Pandya, 8 Ravindra Jadeja, 9 R Ashwin, 10 Jasprit Bumrah, 11 Ashish Nehra.
Pitch and conditions
Another good pitch is expected at the SCG, and the forecast is also good.
Stats and trivia
- Watson will become the ninth man to captain Australia in T20 internationals after Ricky Ponting, Adam Gilchrist, Michael Clarke, Brad Haddin, Cameron White, George Bailey, Finch and Smith.
- Australia have already used 17 players in this series to India's 11; it is possible the tally might finish up at 19 for Australia and 11 for India
- Australia last won a T20 international on November 9, 2014
"We're getting completely outplayed in all three departments at the moment - bat, ball and field."
Michael di Venuto, Australia's acting head coach
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @brydoncoverdale