Now that the ODI series is over, Australia prepare for the three T20s with a revamped squad, one that is much stronger than the one which played the ODIs.
India plays with largely the same team. There is a good reason for this move, considering they won the ODI series 4-1 against the Aussies. Regardless, this is a new format, and things could go either way.
Australia have another chance to save their tour and learn from their mistakes. Can they challenge the Indians away from home?
Steven Smith (c), David Warner, Jason Behrendorff, Daniel Christian, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Aaron Finch, Travis Head, Moises Henriques, Glenn Maxwell, Tim Paine, Kane Richardson, Adam Zampa, Andrew Tye
Virat Kohli (c), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Lokesh Rahul, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, Dinesh Karthik, MS Dhoni, Hardik Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ashish Nehra, Axar Patel
Where the Teams Stand
Australia has a solid team filled with all-rounders for the last leg of their tour. Daniel Christian, Moises Henriques, and to a lesser degree, Nathan Coulter-Nile, are all players who can contribute with bat and ball both. Steve Smith, Warner, Finch, and Paine will compliment them with the bat unless Maxwell or Head is selected ahead of one of the all-rounders. Neither of them did anything noteworthy in the ODI series and deserve no more chances despite the format being tailor-made for players like Maxwell.
Besides the three bowling options mentioned, Kane Richardson, Zampa, and Andrew Tye are other available resources. Jason Behrendorff is also set to make his debut in the match. He is an up and coming fast bowler from New South Wales and earned the call-up after impressive domestic performances. So they now have a left arm quick, right-hand quicks, a wrist spinner, and medium pace to play with.
This team is built for T20 cricket. They have a nice balance of batsman who can tonk the ball and those who can play second fiddle. Spin is an area of concern given how comfortable the Indian batsmen were against Agar and Zampa. The contrasting fortunes of this pair and that of Kuldeep/Chahal shows a massive lack of quality, one that is unfortunate given the conditions.
As always, India has a dilemma on their hands. It is the same one they have had for quite some time now, and it is of the middle-order. The answer is tricky, especially due to having numerous players in contention for two spots. KL Rahul, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, and Dinesh Karthik will all be vying for the available slots.
Pandey performed decently in the last few ODIs, getting starts but failing to convert them into big knocks. His healthy strike rate might just help him retain his place. Jadhav has been ordinary with the bat, despite scoring a 69 in the fourth ODI. He has largely struggled to get going, and if the criteria is just the batting, he is likely to miss out. KL Rahul hasn’t played for India in a while. The last time he did was against Sri Lanka, and he scored 24 from 18 balls in the T20. That was without Shikhar Dhawan though, and Rahul will not get to open the innings. Karthik scored 48 from 29 balls in the last T20 he played, which was against West Indies back in July. He scored a fifty in one of the two ODIs he played as well, making a strong case for selection.
India included Ashish Nehra in the squad, a contentious issue in fan circles. Despite the hubbub surrounding it, he seems likely to miss out, at least for the first match. Kuldeep and Chahal will assuredly retain their place in the side after the fantastic success they enjoyed during the ODI series. Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar are their two best pacers and must be the ones chosen to play on Saturday.
India has a fragile batting lineup, one that has been firing so far, yet retains an air of unreliability as a unit. Their spin bowling, however, has been very consistent throughout and can be relied on to provide breakthroughs. Whether the Indians will perform remains to be seen, but either way, their innings is bound to be entertaining.
Can Australia turn around their horror tour of India, or will the home side prove too strong? Let us know in the comments below.
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