The start to the international cricket summer hasn’t been up to scratch for Australia, as they were comprehensively beaten at home by South Africa in both the ODIs and the one-off T20I. Next up is India, who will provide a stern examination for the locals missing their top two batsmen and a bit of spine.
The venue will be Gabba in Brisbane for the first of the three T20Is between Australia and India on Wednesday. These two sides have had fiery duels in the past, making it very competitive and very entertaining. Although the Indian captain Virat Kohli has indicated a willingness to keep ‘sledging’ off limits, it remains to be seen how ‘friendly’ the contest will be.
In this context, the first T20I will lay a pointer to how the needle will swing and who gets the advantage. Australia have been struggling for a long time and that continued against the South Africans. The only T20I was a rain truncated affair that the Aussies lost by 21 runs.
It is still a mystery as to how a side with big T20 names like Aaron Finch, Chris Lynn, D’Arcy Short, Glenn Maxwell and Alex Carey continue to struggle for runs. If only they can give some runs for their bowlers to defend, the likes of Billy Stanlake and Andrew Tye will be a handful for the Indian batsmen.
India thrashed the Windies 3-0 at home in the T20Is and with captain Kohli back in the saddle, the visitors will be even more formidable. At least on paper, the line-up comprising Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and Kohli should give India a great edge with the batting honours.
In the bowling as well, the presence of Jasprit Bumrah and Kuldeep Yadav makes India very formidable. The wrist spin of Kuldeep has bamboozled quite a few batsmen and his duel with the Aussie middle-order could decide how the series could swing.
Fantasy Players to Watch
Andrew Tye is a player you can ill afford to ignore in this format. His bag of tricks and variations are handy on any surface for any batsman. His consistentcy in picking up wickets makes him an obvious choice for fantasy teams.
Rohit Sharma loves the white ball or the white ball loves Rohit is still a puzzle. The Indian opener holds the record for most T20I centuries (four) and is an absolute pick at the top of the order.
Krunal Pandya is someone who passes under the radar as a name, but over and above it with his performances. Stingy with the ball, resourceful with the bat and excellent in the field – this could be a pick that may surprise everyone.
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Australia (probable XI): 1 Aaron Finch (capt), 2 D Arcy Short, 3 Chris Lynn, 4 Glenn Maxwell, 5 Ben McDermott 6 Marcus Stoinis, 7 Alex Carey (wk), 8 Nathan Coulter-Nile, 9 Andrew Tye, 10 Adam Zampa, 11 Billy Stanlake
India (probable XI): 1 Rohit Sharma, 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Virat Kohli (capt), 4 KL Rahul, 5 Dinesh Karthik (wk), 6 Rishabh Pant, 7 Krunal Pandya, 8 Kuldeep Yadav, 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 10 Khaleel Ahmed, 11 Jasprit Bumrah