Hardly a month ago, Team India completed a full-fledged tour to Australia and now they will again be locking horns with each other for two T20I followed by five ODIs. With the ICC World Cup less than 100 days away most teams are focusing on their preparations for the same, but it’s T20 which begins the latest tussle between these two teams. The corresponding series down under during November was shared 1-1 so it’s all to play for.
India has recently lost a T20I series to New Zealand 2-1 and on the other hand, Australians are fresh from the Big Bash so most involved should be reasonably in tune with the format. However, for this series, India have brought back two big guns, Virat Kohli and Jasprit Bumrah, who were rested for the New Zealand series, so while context may be somewhat lacking, skill and entertainment should not be.
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The Australian opener, D’Arcy Short was the player of the tournament in the BBL. He will stay on for the start of the ODI series as a short-term replacement for Shaun Marsh, so having been dropped from the ODI team during the Australian season, these two matches will be the best opportunity for him to force his way back in. There is debate about who will open with Aaron Finch but it would be strange if it wasn’t Short given his BBL returns. However, he has been struggling against spin so if he does get a berth he will need to show he has improved his game in that area.
Importantly, the Australians will be eyeing to tackle Yuzvendra Chahal who has good memories against them after taking six wickets in the deciding ODI in Melbourne when he switched places with Kuldeep Yadav. How Australia tackle the wristspinner will be key to their chances of winning the series.
Australia have a lot of options to partner skipper Aaron Finch as his opening partner; Alex Carey, Usman Khawaja, D’Arcy Short, Marcus Stoinis and Glenn Maxwell could all be thrown in there, but Short has his recent BBL success behind him. If Pat Cummins makes the XI it would be his first T20I for two years.
On the other hand, India might have to decide between Dinesh Karthik and KL Rahul in the middle order. While Karthik has been quite successful of late, Rahul has built his case by getting runs for India A. Given that this is the first match of the tour, India might prefer to go with more experienced bowlers, which means Siddarth Kaul and Mayank Markande would miss out.
Australia – Aaron Finch (capt), D’Arcy Short, Peter Handscomb, Marcus Stoinis, Glenn Maxwell, Ashton Turner, Alex Carey (wk), Nathan Coulter-Nile, Pat Cummins, Adam Zampa, Kane Richardson
India – Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Dinesh Karthik/KL Rahul, MS Dhoni (wk), Rishabh Pant, Vijay Shankar, Krunal Pandya, Umesh Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah
Some important stats ahead of the Vizag T20I:
- This will be the third T20I held at the venue. In 2012 an India-New Zealand match was abandoned without a ball bowled and in 2016 India dismissed Sri Lanka for 82
- Australia played 19 T20Is in 2018, comfortably their most in a year, despite it not including a T20 World Cup. India also played 19, but that was their second highest tally of games in a year
- Rohit Sharma needs two sixes to be the most prolific six-hitter in T20Is