Why India can win their first-ever T20I series against Australia
South Africa lost their No. 1 Test rank with the series loss © Getty Images

The Indian cricket team, which has a lead of 1-0 in the three-match contest has a rare opportunity to win the Twenty20 International (T20I) series against Australia. It must be remembered that this is the first time ever that India and Australia are involved in a bilateral T20I series Down Under, and the Indian cricket team can emerge victorious due to various reasons. India won the opening match at the Adelaide Oval by 37 runs on Tuesday, which was their second win on the trot on this tour of Australia.

India made a strong comeback after being thrashed in first four matches in a row in the One-Day International (ODI) series. But Indian captain MS Dhoni and his men showed character and resilience in face of adversities, as they ended their losing streak against Australia in Australia when they won the final ODI at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) by 6 wickets with Manish Pandey getting his maiden century in the 50-over format.

In the first match of the T20I series, India were at their dominant best as they exposed Australia’s weaknesses in the format. After their loss, Australia captain Aaron Finch admitted that the target of 189 was too much for his side, and a total around 170 would have been achievable. Indian bowlers struggled against Australia in the ODI series, but they managed to bowl out Australia for 151, which was certainly a commendable effort.

As the two teams gear up for the second T20I at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) on Friday, Indian cricket team has a strong chance to emerge victorious and seal the series. Why? Let’s take a look:

India have a vital 1-0 lead: When South Africa were in India late last year, the tourists insisted on making winning starts in all their series. South Africa won the first T20I as well as the first ODI, and thus attained momentum which benefited them throughout the series. Here, India are 1-0 ahead and they need only one more win from the remaining two games to seal the victory. Australia, who are already under pressure, will be on the backfoot as one more failure in the format will open the doors for severe criticism.

David Warner and Steven Smith rested: The two run-machines in the Australian camp will not be there in the second T20I at Melbourne, which makes India’s chances of winning even stronger. Both the batsmen have a liking to Indian bowlers and their absence will deplete the Australians severely.

India have a composed side: Till the ODI series against Australia, there was a perception that India’s Test team is far more settled than their limited-overs’ team. But in just one outing, India showed their road map to success with batsmen going all guns blazing and their spinners, combining well with rookies Jasprit Bumrah and Hardik Pandya doing the rest of the damage. All that India needs to do is to maintain the same all-round performance, and there is enough depth in both batting and bowling departments to handle pressure situations.

Australia’s shortcomings: On the other hand, Australian bowlers struggled on all fronts in the first T20I, with their decision to recall Shaun Tait backfiring completely. Also, Australia looked like being short of experienced men in their lower-order, with three of their top batsmen — Finch, David Warner and Steven Smith — forming the top order. Chris Lynn and Travis Head have been in terrific form in the Big Bash League (BBL), but they were tamed by Indian spinners in the middle overs of their chase at Adelaide and that caused lot of damage.

India’s expertise in T20 cricket: While Australia cannot be underestimated whatsoever, the expertise that the Indians have in their ranks is somewhat unmatched. Pandya was wayward on debut, but he ended the game with two wickets. Bumrah has turned up as a surprise package for Australia, which was proven by Finch’s struggle in the bowler’s first over at Adelaide. India, on the other hand, went about the job as per the plan and in the end emerged as winners.

This article first appeared at CricketCountry

(Devarchit Varma is senior writer with CricketCountry. He can be followed on Twitter @Devarchit)