The first leg of the two-month-long Australia series concluded on Sunday with a dominating show from India, thus, setting up the upcoming four-match Test series wonderfully.
The three-match series that ended drawn at 1-1 was largely dominated by India and they would feel a tad unfortunate not to win it due to the washout in Melbourne.
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India's bowlers largely responded to the needs and worked well in tandem. Young Khaleel Ahmed and Krunal Pandya did go to the cleaners in the first T20I in Brisbane but they came back strong in the next two.
The batsmen also stood up when needed and fired all cylinders. Led by Shikhar Dhawan and useful contributions from Dinesh Karthik with a touch of usual Virat Kohli masterclass in the third T20I in Sydney, India would definitely feel they were the better side, which they were despite results not showing for it.
But, what were the biggest positives from the series? Keeping in mind the current situation and the future, they have to be Kuldeep Yadav's brilliant use of the Australian pitches, Krunal's show of character and Karthik's contribution down the order.
Kuldeep was exceptional for the visitors. He only returned with four wickets but that doesn't tell the story of his spells in the three T20Is.
Introduced immediately after the powerplay, the wily chinaman bowled with extreme heart like he always does and provided the team with key breakthroughs. Playing ahead of Yuzvendra Chahal, he was India's key spinner and Kuldeep didn't disappoint. From 12 overs in the series, he only gave away 66 runs and troubled the batsmen with his variations and economical bowling.
What the 23-year-old did exceptionally well was use the pitches. Much like South Africa, Kuldeep used the bounce on the pitch to his advantage to trouble the batsmen. Not only that, his variations were barely read by the batsmen and therefore, his four overs would always fly by, thus, adding extra pressure on the Aussie batters.
His impressive show in the shortest format of the game will now give Kohli and the team management a healthy headache going into the Test series. While Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja remain the main spinners, the team management would be vary of Kuldeep's skillset and with David Warner and Steve Smith unavailable, it won't be a surprise if the team management decides to unleash the left-arm leg-spinner on an inexperienced batting line-up.
Another person, who made Kuldeep's job a tad easier was Krunal.
Hardik's brother was clobbered for 55 runs at the Gabba -- his fourth T20I but the character he showed to comeback in the next two games was laudable.
Kohli decided to stick with him despite having Chahal in the wings and he repaid the faith. In the second T20I at the MCG, he returned with figures of 1/26 and the elder Pandya knocked it out of the park with a four-for in the last and final match at the SCG.
It was riding on Krunal's four wickets that Australia lost momentum in Sydney after a brilliant start from Aaron Finch and D'Arcy Short. Krunal fed off Kuldeep's economical bowling and ran through the home side's middle-order to leave them tottering.
Krunal first removed Short and then got the wicket of Brian McDermott and followed it up with the all important wicket of Glenn Maxwell. He returned in the 16th over to remove Alex Carey, who was looking good and all set to take Australia to a big total.
Pandya finished with figures of 4/36 from his four, which included 12 runs from his first over itself.
Krunal's show with the ball and on the field along with his ability with the bat, could give India a perfect No.7 going into the World Cup in England and Wales next year. With Hardik coming in, his position one might say could be in jeopardy but if he keeps performing, he could well be the missing link after Mahendra Singh Dhoni, thus, providing India a proper sixth bowling option and a finisher in the lower midddle-order.
Moving on from the bowlers, Karthik's form with the bat will also provide India much needed comfort going into the World Cup year.
While Rishabh Pant continued to throw his wicket away, showing immaturity at every given opportunity, Karthik showed his experience and grabbed the opportunities with both hands.
The 33-year-old showed immense class and ability in the two matches he batted an almost pulled off another Nidahas Trophy type finish in the first T20I before running out of partners and falling ultimately for a 13-ball 30.
In the third T20I however, he did exactly what was required instead of going for fancy shots and trying to win it himself. Kohli was in and scoring runs and all Karthik did was give him the strike and hit the ball out of the park when the situation demanded. It was his unbeaten 60-run stand for the fifth wicket that took India to the target after KL Rahul and Pant disappointed.
Led by Kohli and ably supported by Karthik, India drew the series and it showed again why Karthik could be such an important cog in the wheel for India in limited-overs cricket.