Chennai: India’s tour of Australia that involves three T20Is, five Tests and three ODIs, kickstarts in Brisbane on Wednesday, with both the teams locking horns in the first T20 International.
India enters this series after inflicting a whitewash to the defending T20 World Champions, West Indies 3-0 at home. India’s T20 form too, for the past one year has been in a purple patch with the team notching up seven consecutive series wins so far.
Having handed over a 0-3 drubbing to the Aussies the last time the two teams met during a T20 series Down under in 2016, India will be high in confidence and will look extend its winning streak.
For Australia though, nothing has gone right in the last few months especially after the ball-tampering saga, that led to the ban of Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft.
They were blanked 0-3 by Pakistan in the T20I series during their tour to UAE and suffered a loss at the hands of South Africa in home in the just concluded one-off T20I. Australia’s squad is however packed with hard-hitters and experienced T20 bowlers. Aaron Finch, Chris Lynn, D’Arcy Short and Glenn Maxwell, are all capable batsmen who on any given day can give a big headache to the opposition.
In the bowling line up, even though Starc will be missed (rested), Nathan Coulter-Nile, Andrew Tye, Billy Stanlake are all capable of having a go at the batsmen.
For both the teams, much will depend on how the top-order batsmen play. Rohit Sharma is having a purple patch in 2018 especially in the shortest format and India’s leading T20 run-scorer will be hoping for another good series with the bat.
India’s batting line-up will be bolstered with the return of Kohli, who was rested for West Indies T20 series. However, Kohli’s return raises a question of who he would be replacing. With India naming a final 12 on the eve of the match, it is clear that Manish Pandey will not feature in the eleven. However, Rishabh Pant, with a valiant fifty against the Windies at Chennai, has made a case for himself to be featured in the playing XI. Same is the case with Dinesh Karthik, who helped India reach the finish line in the first T20I against the Windies.
With KL Rahul, who batted at number three in the recently concluded series, managing to score just 16, 26 and 7, its intriguing whether he would get the axe.
Spin options, too many?
Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah lead the pace battery alongside Umesh Yadav and Khaleel Ahmed, who is making his first tour down under. It remains to be seen whether India would opt for a three-pronged pace attack or loads the attack with spin.
Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal has been the go-to bowlers for India in limited overs cricket
for over a year now. They have constantly picked wickets at the right time, breaking many partnerships. However, with the inclusion of Krunal Pandya in the playing XI during the West Indies series, Chahal was forced to sit out for two games and Kuldeep was rested for the last one. With Krunal, who also gives a batting option and with conditions in Australia, Kohli might be forced to drop either Chahal or Kuldeep from the playing XI. For Australia though, lack
of spin options might be a concern as they have only Ashton Agar and Adam Zampa.
Momentum is with India and the men in blue will look to add one more series win in its kitty, while the Australians will be hoping for a good performance and get back to winning ways.