Whether Ashish Nehra will play in third and final T20I at Hyderabad, is a question only Virat Kohli can answer    AFP
Whether Ashish Nehra will play in the third and final T20I at Hyderabad, is a question only Virat Kohli can answer AFP

When Ashish Nehra made his international debut, Kuldeep Yadav was only 4. When Nehra was in his prime, he awarded a teenage Virat Kohli during a club match. Kuldeep is 22, Kohli 27, and Nehra 38.

Although Nehra’s body aged and was operated 12 times, his zeal to play the game never faded away. He is still the bundle of energy he was when he burst into the international scenes at the age of 20.

Nehra aced the format known for the fast and furious youngsters T20 cricket. He admittedly continued playing the format when had an epiphany that his body does not agree with ODI and Test cricket.

He, however, has been around the arena for almost 19 years, and has finally decided to hang his boots. That must take time for the Nehra-ji fans to digest.

Whether he will play in the third and final T20I at Hyderabad, is a question only Virat Kohli can answer. Even if he does not, he has decided to make the T20I against New Zealand his last assignment. The venue is Feroz Shah Kotla in Delhi, his home ground.

This is Hyderabad, though. He has played here often than he did in Delhi of late, given Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium is Sunrisers Hyderabad’s own den.

The rain, as has been the scene in the past one month, is likely to ruin your Friday evening. This means, the spinners will yet again find it difficult to grip the ball. Even if it does not rain, dew often adds to the misery.

India need Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah at all junctures. The leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal is smart. The former India chess player knows how to make the batsman force into playing false strokes. Glenn Maxwell, for that matter, is still licking his wounds. Then there is Kuldeep Yadav, the Chinaman bowler. He gets massive turn compared to that of Chahal, but he lacks control. The Australians feast on him when he bowls full and eventually dent his confidence.

Should India play Nehra instead of Kuldeep? It is going to rain, offering more swing. Plus, Nehra would grip the ball better than Kuldeep. The outcome of the second T20I is an evidence to the fact. It all depends on Kohli’s horses-for-courses strategy.

Likely XI for India: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli (c), Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ashish Nehra/Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal

Australia would not want to tinker with the winning combination. Their bowlers could finally dismember the prodigious Indian batting. Jason Behrendorff and Adam Zampa took 6 wickets between them, conceding a mere 40 runs.

What important for Australia is to dish out a right batting line-up. Sending Moises Henriques ahead of Glenn Maxwell at No. 3 in a low-scoring match added more balance to an otherwise fallible middle-order.

For a pinch-hitter like Maxwell, there is no need of a plan. Responsibility is not his forte, and resting expectations on him is anyway futile. Wherever he bats, Australia should ask him to go bonkers, unless he is stranded with the lower middle-order.

Likely XI for Australia: Aaron Finch, David Warner (c), Moises Henriques, Travis Head, Glenn Maxwell, Marc Stoinis, Tim Paine (wk), Nathan Coulter-Nile, Andrew Tye, Adam Zampa, Jason Behrendorff

Did you know?

– That Kohli needs 38 runs to become second-highest scored in T20Is

– That Australia has won only 1 T20I bilateral series (out of 5) against India

– That Rohit Sharma needs 105 runs to become the second India with 1,500 runs in T20Is