With Suryakumar & Co already bagging the T20I series 3-1, it will be interesting to see who’ll make the most of Game 5. Yashasvi Jaiswal, Ruturaj Gaikwad or Rinku Singh?
India’s captain Suryakumar Yadav gestures during the fourth T20I against Australia in Raipur on Friday. Pic/AFP
Packed calendars, broadcaster demands and financial considerations. These are the catchphrases in modern-day international cricket, lent credence by World Cup champions Australia and finalists India locking horns in a five-match Twenty20 International face-off exactly four nights—that’s right— after their grand showdown in Ahmedabad.
Neither side would understandably be at full strength. Australia’s original squad—since reshuffled—had two-thirds of the 15 which lifted the World Cup for a staggering sixth time, India rested two-thirds of those who mounted a stirring campaign which ended in heartbreak. Even with the next T20 World Cup six months away, this series wasn’t expected to attract too much attention, but clearly, no one had told the audiences in Visakhapatnam, Thiruvananthapuram, Guwahati and Raipur that.
Packed houses greeted the ‘second-strings’ or those on ‘audition’—depending on one’s point of view—and that norm is set to continue on Sunday at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium, when the teams square off for the final game of a series already clinched 3-1 by the home side. They will come in their thousands to cheer captain Suryakumar Yadav and Shreyas Iyer, no doubt, but also to express their appreciation for Rinku Singh, the pint-sized finisher who has taken to international cricket with aplomb.
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Rinku is but one of several relative newcomers who have lit up the batting landscape. Alongside fellow left-hander Yashasvi Jaiswal and Ruturaj Gaikwad, he has pitched his claim for a place in the World Cup squad.
As impressive as India’s batting might has been Suryakumar’s leadership. Until a month and a half back, Hardik Pandya appeared a shoo-in to lead the country at the World Cup, but with the all-rounder unlikely to play competitively till the IPL, the focus seems to have shifted to Suryakumar in the event of Rohit Sharma continuing to stay away from T20Is.
Unaffected by the cares of captaincy, the Mumbaikar was the driving force in the first game; equally, he has led with imagination and calmness, traits developed by watching Rohit from close quarters.
India’s pacers have been under the pump, but the same is true of the Aussies, who conceded 200-plus in the first three games. India’s cause hasn’t been helped by bowling second for three matches in a row, though to their credit and with the spinners in the forefront, they have managed to defend successfully in two of those outings.