A lot was expected off the Indian cricket team down under. However, Virat Kohli’s team failed to start well in the ODI series. They had it all wrong before the two West-Indian allrounders stitched a crucial stand to help India achieve a pride-salvaging victory against Australia in the Third ODI at Canberra. Today, on the same ground and against the same opposition, India will now take the field in the first of the three T20I series starting Friday.
Interestingly, India has not lost a single T20I series post the 2019 World Cup. They have won 5 and drawn 1 with the latest being the thumping 5-0 whitewash against New Zealand in New Zealand. Though the prolonged break has hampered the rhythm of many cricketers, India would look to capitalize on the gains from the IPL moving forward. Australia on the other hand will also be keen on making a statement in pursuit of the No.1 T20 international ranking. Currently, the Aussies are equal on points with the Englishmen at the top, while India are just a spot below them on 3rd.
Australia vs India T20I series:
The first of the three matches will be played at The Manuka Oval in Canberra before the teams travel down to Sydney for the other two games. Both teams will be expected to rest a few key players from the bulk of the series courtesy of the Test series coming up, almost immediately. Moreover, the overlap of the 3-day practice matches with the white-ball schedule is also expected to hand in debuts to a few youngsters from either team.
Cameron Green, Australia’s recent ODI debutant:
“I’m going to be hanging around the T20 group, try and put my hand up for selection. Also at the back of my mind there is a Test series coming up, so preparing for that. But you’ve got to prepare for where you are right now and that’s the T20 guys.”
India will look to find a balance:
The balance of the Indian team was put into question throughout the ODI leg of the tour. Not having a dependable sixth bowling option caused them ample problems, but it is likely to remain the same through the T20s as well. It will also be interesting to see if KL Rahul will be sent up the order opening a slot for Manish Pandey in the middle order or will India continue with Mayank at the top. Pandey has been fairly consistent in the limited opportunities he’s got in either of the white ball formats but has often been India’s floating middle-order batsman, in and out of the team. Incidentally, for the first match at the Manuka Oval, India might also be tempted to play an extra spinning all-rounder in Washington Sundar alongside Jadeja and Chahal. Meanwhile, T Natarajan who was impressive in his first ODI might also bad his T20 cap with Bumrah and Shami expected to alternate between the T20s with Deepak Chahar.
Australia might go in with both keepers:
Matthew Wade has slipped down to be Australia’s second choice wicket-keeper in all formats. Warner who suffered a groin injury in the second ODI is set to miss the T20 series as well as the first Test. Wade, the batsman, is expected to get a game this series as an opener over Marnus Labuschagne. With Smith and Finch at the top, the explosive middle-order of Maxwell, Carey and Henriques is set to form a solid core of the Australian batting. On flat Sydney and Canberra wickets, the Aussie batsmen have already shown their abilities and a repeat of the same would not be a surprise. On the slowish wicket, Australia are also expected to play both their spinners, Agar and Zampa, alongside the pace battery of Abbott, Hazlewood and Andrew Tye. Mitchell Starc, who was seen walking around the boundary without any discomfort is likely to be preserved and rested for the Test series.
What to Expect?
The last time a T20 International was played between India and Australia down under, Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina had seen India through in the last over after Kohli’s half-century. The high-scoring thriller had everyone at the edge of their seats. The relatively shorter boundaries at Canberra combined with an easy batting wicket is slated to stage yet another high scoring encounter. Spin might as well play a key role, but having said that, both teams would be keen on setting a high target batting first.
Australia (Likely T20I XI):
Aaron Finch (c), Matthew Wade, Steve Smith, Moises Henriques, Alex Carey (wk), Glenn Maxwell, Ashton Agar, Sean Abbott, Andrew Tye, Josh Hazlewood, Adam Zampa
India (Likely T20I XI):
Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul (wk), Virat Kohli (c), Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey/Washington Sundar, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Deepak Chahar, T Natarajan, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah