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The battle for a play-off spot continues in Canberra on Thursday
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India v Australia: Five things we learned from the T20I series

India and Australia went toe-to-toe in five Twenty20 international matches a matter of days after the 50-over World Cup had finished, with the Baggy Greens going down to a 4-1 series defeat.

Of course the Aussies had taken the big prize by beating hosts India in the World Cup final, but few of the players on display then were to feature in the T20 action.

Even so, the series served up some high-quality cricket and gave fringe players on both sides the opportunity to press for a more regular place in their national team set-up.

Here we take a look at five talking points from across the five matches.

International schedule far too busy

First of all, there is no denying that the cricket schedule as a whole is far too crowded and playing a series so soon after a major showpiece event seems like a strange decision.

It meant that the likes of Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Jasprit Bumrah, David Warner, Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins were all absent.

In truth there was little option for either India or Australia other than to rest their stars, with the cricket calendar bringing a Test series at home to Pakistan for the Baggy Greens and an all-format tour of South Africa for India within a matter of a week or two.

A more streamlined schedule needs to be set in place around the globe, otherwise the drift to franchise cricket could see international action relegated to second choice.

Smith too timid for T20 role

Steven Smith did play a part in the series, opening the batting in the first two matches before heading home, making scores of 52 and 19.

Those innings covered 41 and 16 balls respectively and it is hard to see why Australia would want to try Smith at the top of the order again. He strikes at 125 in T20I cricket and that is simply not high enough for an opening batter.

Smith has hit 25 sixes in 53 T20 innings for Australia, while Warner has 105 from 99 knocks, that difference tells the tale of why the latter has been a 20-over success and Smith has always seemed ill-suited to the format.

The return of Travis Head at the top of the order gave an indication of what was needed, as he struck at in excess of 190 in two of his three innings.

David under pressure to deliver

Further down the batting order, Australia also face something of a conundrum about what to do with the big-hitting Tim David,

The 27-year-old former Singapore batter came into the Australia set-up in 2019 and was used in the top four positions for much of the first half of his T20I career to date, before dropping down to five or six in more recent times.

His average was well in excess of 40 after 14 games, but since then he is averaging around 25 and is clearly struggling with having to come in with little time to play himself in.

Australia need to decide whether to risk pushing him back up the order, or hope that an upturn in performance is just the corner for such a talented stroke-maker.

Behrendorff a class act

With Cummins, Starc and Josh Hazlewood all sitting out the series, the back-up Aussie seamers have a chance to impress and none took that opportunity better than the tall left-armer Jason Behrendorff.

Having missed out on selection for the World Cup, Behrendorff showed why he can feel unlucky to have only played 12 ODIs and 14 T20Is for his country.

His four overs in the series opener went for just 25, before he sat out the second match, only to return with simply outstanding figures of 1-12 from four overs in the lone Australia victory of the series - in a high-scoring clash in Guwahati.

Behrendorff finished the series by taking two wickets in both Raipur and Bengaluru to round off a series of highly impressive displays which proved that the 33-year-old can still preform at the very highest level.

India's top-order power frightening

The hosts gave both Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill a rest for this series, but their top-order batting still fired to an extent that it was the driving force for the 4-1 series triumph.

Yashasvi Jaiswal and Ishan Kishan both gave glimpses of their undoubted talent, while Ruturaj Gaikwad was the standout batter on either side across the five matches.

He made 223 runs at an average of 55.75 and a strike-rate of 159.28, with his tally 79 more than any other batter on display.

The 26-year-old right-hander certainly laid down a marker as a leading candidate to be the successor to Rohit when the 36-year-old calls time on his illustrious international career.

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