New Delhi: Quite contrasting, you see. As the two most fierce rivals now gear up for the T20I series, things seem a way lot different for the Indian and the Australian cricket team. The Men in Blue are currently full of the joys of spring. Having lost just three out of their 20 matches since their heartbreaking ICC Champions Trophy final defeat, accounting all formats of the game, Virat Kohli and his men are at the pinnacle of absolute dominance. On the contrary, Australia are having an unforgetful summer and after a ruthless 1-4 defeat in the ODI series against India, things are estimated to continue in the three-match T20I series too.
Dubbed as 'underdogs' ahead of the series, probably for the first time in their cricketing history, Team Australia indeed faced a ruthless Indian side who crumbled their hopes down 4-1 in the five-match ODI series. It was only in the Bengaluru encounter that the team from Down Under pulled one back in their favour. Well, that did hurt Virat and his pack of Blues as Australia's 21-run victory snapped their bid to register a historic 10-match ODI winning streak. The loss also snatched away their No.1 rank title in ODIs, within just three days. But Kohli resolved to his previous squad, the one that played in Indore, and riding on Rohit Sharma's blistering knock of 125 runs, the home team clinched the series 4-1 with a seven-wicket win in Nagpur.
It was for the first time that the Aussies faced such a heavy defeat at the hands of the Indians. But the question was, was this really an Australian team? The one that was tagged as the most 'formidable' team, the most fearsome of all...where is that team, where is all that Aussie aggression? The side that would once boast the likes of Mathew Hayden, Adam Gilchrist, Ricky Ponting, Brett Lee was now struggling to even cross the 200-run mark. Batting surely lacked the depth, something which Steve Smith had repeatedly said in each of his post-match pressers. Yes, David Warner and later on Aaron Finch did provide some support to the batting lineup, a glimpse of which was seen at Bengaluru and a bit in Nagpur.
While some put forth 'lack of strike bowlers' as an excuse for the Aussies facing such a drubbing on Indian soil. Well, that could be the case you see. No Mitchell Starc, no Josh Hazlewood – Australia's present top-two bowlers were out of the tour. Then there was a problem with the spinners. On one hand, when Team India was heavily relying on wrist-spin action, Steve Smith had only one labelled spinner in his squad. Regardless of all Australia Coach David Saker had something else to say about their defeat.
"I think it's mainly just their mindset and where they are in their games. A lot of them are playing a little bit scared, which we try not to do. We try and make sure they play with a lot of freedom and express themselves as much as they can. But when you're losing, you play scared, you go insular and you start looking at number one. I think there are little bits of that," he told cricket.com.au.
Team Australia thus have a huge task of rectifying their mistakes before heading in for the three-match T20I series. Aussie skipper Steve Smith said, "We got to try and keep a positive frame of mind. We’d like to go home with a trophy."But then T20I statistics fail to befriend Smith's men.
Ranked seventh on the ICC T20I Rankings, the tourists have lost all their last six battles against India in the shortest format of the game. Accounting overall stats, the Aussies have been able to scalp just four wins in all of their 13 T20I matches against India so far. And that includes the humiliating 3-0 whitewashed they had faced in their own backyard in 2016, their first home whitewash.
Adding to their woes is Australia's present record on foreign soil. After a humiliating exit in the group stage round of the ICC Champions Trophy, the Aussies have had a forgetful summer. First walked in the pay-dispute issue, then the 1-1 draw in Bangladesh in the two-match Test series and finally the 1-4 drubbing in India. Recovering back from such a severe wound and pulling off a miracle seems far too impossible for Steve Smith's men.
Things haven't been far too impressive about Team India in the shortest format of the game. In 2017, they have won just three out of their five T20I matches. Their inconsistency in this format has shifted them down to No.5 in the T20I rankings. But looking at their present form, a vision of Team India claiming a 3-0 whitewash over Australia can't surely be ruled out.
And then of course, the Kohli-factor steps in. If Rohit Sharma is for ODIs against the Aussies, then Kohli is the same for T20Is. He has scores of 90 n.o, 59 n.o, 50 and 82 n.o in the last four matches against the team from Down Under with his total runs against them standing right on top – 401 runs from nine innings (average 66.83).
So, it all leads up to JSCA Stadium, Ranchi where the T20I series will kick off on Saturday. While Australia will be aiming to bend things their way, Team India will be looking for a 3-0 whitewash which would take the hosts to No.2 on T20I rankings.