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India look for T20 series-clinching win in Melbourne

Last updated on: January 28, 2016 14:53 IST

India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni addresses his players during a practice session

IMAGE: India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni addresses his players during a practice session. Photograph: BCCI

High on confidence after winning the first Twenty20 International, India will look to press home the advantage and seal the three-match series when they take on Australia in the second T20 in Melbourne, on Friday.

Having won the first match of the three-T20I series by 37 runs, in Adelaide, to take a 1-0 lead, India find themselves ahead of the hosts for the first time on the tour, a position of confidence they did not enjoy for the duration of the One-Day International series. 

The 'Men in Blue' will be keen to close out the series early so that they get a chance to experiment in the last match in Sydney.

However, that will be an after-thought at best, if at all.

Right now, the Indian team management wants to keep the turn in fortunes going. 

Winning the last ODI in Sydney provided some relief to the beleaguered tourists, and then the victory in the previous match in Adelaide has given their last week on tour some impetus.

Ravichandran Ashwin of India celebrates after taking a wicket

IMAGE: India's Ravichandran Ashwin celebrates after taking the wicket of Australia's Shane Watson during the Twenty20 match in Adelaide. Photograph: Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images

Hitting the right balance for the playing eleven was a concern for the Indian team. They tried doing so earlier in the series, bringing in Gurkeerat Mann and Rishi Dhawan, and leaving out the additional spinner. 

Two spinners in the team did not provide captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni the control he needed in the middle overs, and though that change in selection did not bring about the desired results, the youngsters impressed enough to stay on for the T20Is. 

Perhaps it provided the basis for the management to understand where their strength lies, and thus, when Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina joined the ranks for the T20Is, there was no hesitancy in picking them for the Adelaide game straightaway. 

Picking the duo allowed Dhoni the freedom to choose his bowling attack as per both experience and requirements, devoid of the baggage of the ODI series. 

Ravichandran Ashwin duly returned to the side and along with Ravindra Jadeja gave a precursor of things to come in the sub-continent in the next two months. 

And with Jasprit Bumrah impressing on debut, it gave the management further confidence to draft in Hardik Pandya as well, banking on extra overs that Yuvraj-Raina could bowl if need be.

India's Virat Kohli plays a shot during the Adelaide T20 against Australia

IMAGE: India's Virat Kohli plays a shot during the Adelaide T20. Photograph: Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images

Thus, it will take a major upheaval in India's plans, or even a freak injury in the build-up to Friday's game, to break away from this combination. 

With their bowling problems looking sorted at the moment, the batting order picks itself, given that Ajinkya Rahane is not yet back to full fitness. 

The Mumbai batsman only took light throw downs in the nets near the end of the session.

Thus, Dhoni will not be able to fit him in the eleven immediately. 

The skipper happily accepted a problem of plenty post the Adelaide victory, but failed to specify just how he intended to sort this one.

Given that he is expected to go in with the same eleven, the onus thus lies on Yuvraj and Raina to make sure he doesn't need to.  

Raina looked rusty in his 34-ball 41-run knock at the Adelaide Oval, and it was only Virat Kohli's efforts that did not allow pressure to shift back to the Indian batting in the last 10 overs.

Indian team celebrates a wicket in the ODI series against Australia

IMAGE: The Indian players celebrates a wicket in the ODI series against Australia. Photograph: Scott Barbour/Getty Images

Raina did well enough to play a supporting role, but more is expected of the current Indian middle order. 

Dhoni usually follows a left-right combination in his batting line-up during T20Is, and if Raina got a chance in the previous game, he could entertain thoughts of sending Yuvraj ahead this time around, if the match situation allows. 

It is imperative for the Punjab all-rounder to get some proper game-time under his belt, never mind fielding for 20 overs (and bowling one of them) in the previous match. 

This is the take-away India is hoping for in the backdrop of aiming for an early series win.  

Meanwhile, Australia are under pressure, perhaps for the first time this summer.

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