It was not easy. The bowlers were made to sweat and fret as a familiar marauding Glenn Maxwell produced another eternal classic to snatch victory from Indian hands in the third T20I. But with Maxwell back home, the home team's bowlers regained some confidence and stopped the Aussies short in the fourth T20I to seal the series 3-1 in Raipur. It's time now for the fifth and final game in Bengaluru on Sunday, December 3, 2023. (Match Blog | Streaming | Cricket News)
Left-arm spinner Axar Patel was the star of the show in the bowling department as he scalped three wickets and conceded just 16 runs in his four overs and together with leggie Ravi Bishnoi, stemmed the flow of runs entirely. Among the batters, Rinku Singh blazed away to a 29-ball 46 while Jitesh Sharma smashed 35 in 19 balls to take India to a challenging total of 174 runs.
The fate of the series may already be decided, but there's lots to play for, for both teams in the fifth T20I. In the lead-up to the ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2024 in June, international games between two strong T20 sides is useful for both of them. And for many youngsters in either side, it could be a chance to cement their spot in the playing XI ahead of the marquee tournament.
Here are three key player battles that could decide the outcome of the fifth IND vs AUS T20I.
Yashasvi Jaiswal Vs Aaron Hardie
Young southpaw Yashasvi Jaiswal has shown that he has what it takes to excel on the biggest stage. Though Jaiswal bludgeoned a 25-ball 53 in the second T20I and also struck a quickfire 37 in the fourth game, he has not really come alive in this series the way he can.
And so, the 21-year-old will look to do that in the final T20I but he will have to be careful against right-arm seamer Aaron Hardie, who troubled him in the previous game with tight lines and a hard length, and eventually dismissed Jaiswal. The 24-year-old Hardie will look to similarly strangle Jaiswal in this game, while the southpaw will aim to break free.
Rinku Singh Vs Jason Behrendorff
Few Indian cricketers' stories have been more heartwarming than that of Rinku Singh in the recent past. The 26-year-old has defied socio-economic adversities to emerge as a bonafide star for the Men In Blue. He has played the role of finisher to perfection in T20Is, dealing the big blows with alarming regularity for opposition bowlers.
But in Jason Behrendorff, the southpaw has a worthy adversary who knows exactly what to do in the death overs. Behrendorff has the knack of nailing his yorkers and that's exactly what he did to get rid of Rinku in the fourth T20I. The man from Aligarh will be wary of the threat posed this time.
Ravi Bishnoi Vs Travis Head
Ravi Bishnoi is not everybody's favourite. With a fast, whippy action and a stock ball that comes back in to the right-hander despite him being a leg-spinner, Bishnoi is not conventional in any sense of the word. But he is just right for a format like T20, where novel skills can prove to be rewarding.
The 23-year-old from Jodhpur has easily been India's best bowler in the series so far, picking up seven wickets and conceding fewer runs than most others. Travis Head, however, knows exactly how to unsettle in-form bowlers, as the world witnessed in the knock-out games of ICC Cricket World Cup 2023. The southpaw is naturally aggressive, and will look to dismantle Bishnoi's rhythm from the get go.