Team India couldn’t pull off an encore of their 2016 T20 series triumph against the Aussies in their den, when they whitewashed the men in yellow 3-0. This time the series scoreline read 2-1, but India were the series winners.
Here’s a quick look at how five key Indian T20 players did in this series:
Virat Kohli (134 runs)
The Indian captain played all three matches in the series and finished with 134 runs in his kitty. Virat scored those runs at a strike rate of 142.55 and had a highest score of 85, which he registered in the third and final T20 in Sydney on Tuesday. Virat finished as the second highest run getter in the series, behind Australia’s Matthew Wade, who scored 145 runs in the 3 matches. Virat didn’t start off well in the T20 series. In the first match, played in Canberra, which India won by 11 runs, he scored just 9 runs before falling caught and bowled to leg spinner Mitchell Swepson. In the second T20, which India won by 6 wickets, Virat found his touch and scored 40. His knock of 85 in the final T20 was particularly significant for his own form. Though India couldn’t win the match, an in-form Virat is always great news for Indian cricket. Though the Indian skipper will be playing only the first Test vs Australia and then returning home on paternity leave, this bodes well for the opening match of the all important Border-Gavaskar Trophy series, which begins with the first Test in Adelaide on December 17, which will be a day-night affair.
The Indian southpaw had a great IPL 2020, where he finished as the second highest run getter overall, behind orange cap winner KL Rahul. Shikhar will always go into a T20 series as one of the key Indian players. In this series however he didn’t manage to live up to the expectations, scoring a total of 81 runs in the 3 games. In the first match he was cleaned up for just 1 by a Mitchell Starc beauty. In the second match he upped the ante and scored his only half century of the series, a 36 ball 52, in India’s successful chase of 195. In the third T20 he fell for 28 to Swepson. Overall Shikhar had a strike rate of 128.57 in the series and an average of 27.
Hands down the biggest impact player of the series, Hardik Pandya richly deserved the Man of the series award which he was given. In the 3 matches played, Hardik scored 78 runs. That might not sound like a lot, but batting at number 5 and 6 those were very useful runs. In the first T20, he scored a 15 ball 16. In the second T20, when India were chasing a mammoth 195 to win, he came in at number 5 and smashed an unbeaten 22 ball 42, with 3 fours and 2 sixes. HIs knock is what made the difference for Team India, as they chased down the required 25 runs in the last two overs, with 2 balls to spare. In the third T20, Hardik scored a 13 ball 20. His series strike rate was 156.
Yuzvendra Chahal, who is a key spinner for Team India in limited overs cricket was not initially picked to play the first T20 of the series. But he was brought in when India were bowling in the second innings as a concussion substitute for Ravindra Jadeja. And he walked away with the man of the match award for his figures of 3/25, that helped India pull off a 11 run win. Chahal took the key wickets of Aaron Finch, Steve Smith and Matthew Wade in the game. Chahal’s form though subsequently dropped. It was almost as if the Aussies were determined to attack Chahal, since they were not happy at all that he was allowed to be Jadeja’s concussion substitute in the first game Chahal took one wicket, but was the most expensive Indian bowler, giving away 51 runs in his 4 overs, at an economy rate of 12.75. In the third T20, Chahal was once again quite expensive, leaking 41 runs in his 4 overs without taking a wicket.
The find of the series for India. Left arm medium pacer T Natarajan would not have played the T20 series, if his state-mate Varun Chakravarthy was not withdrawn from the squad with a shoulder injury. And he made the most of the opportunity. Playing his first ever T29 international series and just one match old in international cricket before this (he played the third ODI vs Australia), Natarajan incredibly finished the series as the highest wicket taker overall, with 6 wickets in the 3 games. He had an overall economy rate of 6.91 and best bowling figures of 3/30 in the first game. In that match Natarajan took the wickets of D’arcy Short, Glenn Maxwell and Mitchell Starc. In the second T20, the 29 year old from Salem, Tamil Nadu registered great figures again of 2/20 in his 4 overs. In the final match of the series, Natarajan returned figures of 1/33. In the second and third matches, Natarajan was the most economical Indian bowler. After the series Hardik Pandya in fact gave Natarajan his Man of the Series trophy, saying he deserved it more. Virat Kohli meanwhile has hinted that Natarajan can be in contention to play the T20 World Cup in 2021 if he continues to work hard and deliver consistently.