As Jason Behrendorff got off the plane at the Guwahati Airport on a cool Monday evening, he might well have been warmed by the memories from six years ago.
In the first ever international game at the ACA Stadium here, the left-arm seamer was the ‘Player-of-the-Match’, in the second T20I of that India-Australia series. He had taken four for 21, in only his second international game; among his victims were Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli.
Cut to the present, Behrendorff has had to sit out during the second T20I at Thiruvananthapuram on Sunday, as the visitors chose to play two spinners. They didn’t gain much from the change of strategy against an intimidating young Indian top-order.
Given the fact that Behrendorff was the bowler who earned most respect from the merciless Indian batters in the opening T20I — he gave away 6.25 runs per over while everyone else averaged at least 11 — he could get an opportunity in the third T20I on Tuesday. He isn’t the only member of the current Australian squad that figured in the comfortable eight-wicket win back in 2017.
Glenn Maxwell, Travis Head, Adam Zampa and Marcus Stoinis were also there. If you wonder how many of this Indian side played in that match, the answer is zero.
That doesn’t tell merely that India has moved on from the M.S. Dhoni era, but it shows the amazing depth of its cricket. That this inexperienced Indian side is leading the five-match series 2-0 underlines the fact.
The Indians should be hoping to make it 3-0 and thus clinch the series with two games remaining. But as the World Cup final reminded us only a few days ago, cricket’s greatest charm is its uncertainty. And Australia, though it is without some of its big stars including skipper Pat Cummins, boasts some of the proudest men in sport.
But they need to come up with a much better show. After the Indian chase gave them a glimmer of hope in the first game with a wobble near the finishing line, they were outplayed in the last match, in which India plundered 235 for four.
India’s top three — Yashasvi Jaiswal, Ruturaj Gaikwad and Ishan Kishan — made fifties at brisk rate, and the finisher Rinku Singh scored faster. Captain Suryakumar Yadav is in form too. Not many would envy Australia’s bowlers who have to find a way to reduce the boundary balls somehow.
The visiting side may not be as worried about its batting: Josh Inglis scored a splendid hundred in the first match, while Stoinis, Tim David and Matthew Wade scored rapidly in the second.
The Aussie batters have to counter a balanced Indian attack that showed much improvement at Thiruvananthapuram, exemplified by Prasidh Krishna’s effort.
The teams (from)
India: Suryakumar Yadav (Capt.), Ruturaj Gaikwad, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Ishan Kishan, Tilak Varma, Rinku Singh, Jitesh Sharma, Washington Sundar, Axar Patel, Shivam Dubey, Ravi Bishnoi, Arshdeep Singh, Prasidh Krishna, Mukesh Kumar and Avesh Khan.
Australia: Matthew Wade (Capt.), Steve Smith, Matt Short, Josh Inglis, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Tim David, Travis Head, Aaron Hardie, Jason Behrendorff, Adam Zampa, Sean Abbott, Nathan Ellis, Tanveer Sangha and Kane Richardson.
Umpires: Rohan Pandit, Virender Sharma; TV Umpire: K.N. Ananthapadmanabhan; Fourth Umpire: J.R. Madanagopal; Match Referee: Javagal Srinath.
Match starts at 7 p.m.