India vs Australia: Inconsistent Samson to Finisher Pandya, Takeaways From India’s Victory in 2nd T20I
Hardik Pandya, T Natarajan and Sanju Samson (© Twitter)

India beat Australia in the second T20I by six wickets to continue their dominating run in the shortest format in 2020. With the win, Virat Kohli and Co. not only sealed the three-match series but they also extend their 2020’s undefeated streak in T20I. After losing the ODI series 2-1, many cricket critics had write-off India from the T20I series as well including former England captain Michael Vaughan. He had claimed that visitors will lose series in all three formats to Australia. But Kohli and Co. turned tables in the T20Is as India convincingly beat Australia in the first two games with clinical performances.

In the opening game at Manuka, Oval, Canberra, Indian bowlers proved their supremacy over the Aussie batting line-up and defended 162-target. While in the second match at SCG, it was the other way around as this time the batsman displayed their dominance and chased down the formidable total of 195 in 19.4 overs.

Takeaways from India’s victory in 2nd T20I

1. Natarajan Stood Out

At a batting-friendly pitch where almost every bowler struggled to hit the right length, it was rookie pacer T Natarajan who stood out with his extraordinary performance and picked two wickets for just 20 runs in his quota of four overs. The left-arm seamer was the only bowler from both teams who picked two wickets and had an economy rate below 6.

It was a big game for Natarajan, with the added responsibility of bowling the death overs in the absence of senior players like Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami, but the 29-year-old rose to the occasion. Before the T20I series, Natarajan was hyped for bowling the yorker deliveries with accuracy but in the first two games, he has proved his versatility and picked four off his 5 wickets on non-yorker balls.

With Natarajan’s rise, it’s now safe to say that India’s search for a quality left-arm seamer comes close to an end.

2. Inconsistent Samson

Sanju Samson is a player who is often considered the next-big-thing in Indian cricket for the past few years, but he has failed to live up to the expectations till now. The wicketkeeper-batsman was selected in the first two T20Is as a proper batsman with KL Rahul donning the gkeeper’ss role, but he wasted both of his chances with some rash shots. After a bright start in both the games, Samson threw his wicket away at the score of 22 and 15 respectively.

He had a good chance in the second T20I to built a partnership with skipper Virat Kohli but he couldn’t control his ambitions and slammed a short ball of Mitchell Swepson into Steve Smith’s hands at long-off. Samson was picked over Rishabh Pant in the limited-overs series and was backed by team management to play in first T20I over more experienced Manish Pandey. He has so far played 6 T20Is for India, in which he managed to score 73 runs at an average of 12.16.

It’s high-time Samson should realize his role and what the team needs from him otherwise there are several players in line for selection in Team India.

3. Pandya as a finisher is ready to win matches for India

Australia tour has been a revelation for someone like Hardik Pandya as the flamboyant all-rounder was backed by the team management to play as a pure batsman in playing xi. Hardik has not attained full-fitness to a bowl and is working hard on his new action to reduce the injury threat to his back.

The 27-year-old was the highest scorer for India in the three-match ODI series against Australia with 210 runs. He played a monumental role in men in blue’s victory in the third ODI, where he slammed unbeaten 92 runs. While in the second T20I, Pandya was a game-changer for India with his quickfire 42-run knock off 22 balls as he finished off the match with two maximums in last over.

Skipper Virat Kohli also heaped huge praise on Pandya and said the 27-year-old has realised what the team needs from him and he is working on that efficiently.

“The reason was Hardik coming into the team in 2016 was pure ability. He has raw talent. And now he realises that this is his time, the next 4-5 years, to be that bankable player that can win you games from anywhere. His plans are right and I’m glad to see that. We had a word before the game to ride the atmosphere, and the energy from the fans,” Kohli said in the post-match presentation.

4. Fight for the opening spot intensifies

The excellent form of Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul intensifies the fight for the T20Is opening spot in the Indian team as when Rohit Sharma got recovered from the injury, it will be a good puzzle for the team management.

It is pretty much evident that Rohit will be India’s opener after returning from injury, as his record in white-ball cricket is extraordinary and there are only a few players in world cricket who can challenge that.

With KL Rahul’s glorious run as an opener in T20I cricket, it will be a task for the Indian team management to sort out the batting order. In 2020, Rahul is the leading run-scorer for India in T20Is with 404 runs in 10 innings. While Dhawan is also enjoying good form as he was the second-highest run-scorer in IPL 2020 and he continued that in the second T20I with a fifty.