dhoni

India's MS Dhoni during a practice session ahead of the 2nd T20I match against Australia M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru on Feb. 26. (IANS photo)

BENGALURU — Bruised by the narrow three-wicket loss to Australia in the series opener, India will aim to come back strong and avoid a 0-2 whitewash in the second and final T20I at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium, which begins here Feb. 27.

After finishing their overseas assignments in Australia and New Zealand on a high, India were handed a stern reality check in the opening match, which saw the famed India batting lineup crumbling for a paltry 126/7 before the Aussies overcame Jasprit Bumrah's impressive spell to romp home in the last ball thriller.

With only a handful of international games to be played ahead of the ICC World Cup, India's focus may surely be on getting their strategy and combination right, but the hosts will also need to tighten a few screws going into the second T20I if they are to avoid a whitewash.

In the first match, the Indian batsmen failed to cash in the opportunity of playing on a placid track at Vizag, and barring comeback man Lokesh Rahul's 50, skipper Virat Kohli and former skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, none of the batters could even reach the double digits.

While Rahul, who replaced regular opener Shikhar Dhawan, grabbed the opportunity with both hands, the other youngster Rishabh Pant, a strong contender for a World Cup 2019 berth, will be itching to perform after getting out cheaply Feb. 24.

The pressure will also be on veteran stumper Dinesh Karthik, who is left with just one game to present his case before the World Cup squad is finalized.

Coming to the bowling department, Bumrah's triple strikes gave jitters in the Kangaroos's chase but fellow pacer Umesh Yadav leaked runs and was not able to defend 14 in the final over. India could replace Umesh with Siddharth Kaul or bring in all-rounder Vijay Shankar to beef up the batting department.

On the other hand, Australia will be hoping for a repeat of their performance, but with a cautious approach from the top order batsmen.

Squads:

India: Virat Kohli (Captain), Rohit Sharma, Lokesh Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan, Rishabh Pant, Dinesh Karthik, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wk), Krunal Pandya, Vijay Shankar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Umesh Yadav, Sidharth Kaul, Mayank Markande.

Australia: Aaron Finch (Captain), D'Arcy Short, Pat Cummins, Alex Carey, Jason Behrendorff, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Peter Handscomb (wk), Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Glenn Maxwell, Jhye Richardson, Kane Richardson, Marcus Stoinis, Ashton Turner, Adam Zampa.

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