A T20I bilateral series rarely has context, so India vs Australia is not going to have one. However, the spotlight is on both sides as they finalise preparations for the ICC World Cup 2019.
The first T20I will be played in Visakhapatnam on Sunday with both teams looking to fix chinks in their squad. India will look to get an answer to their middle-order problems, while Australia have a lot to ponder.
The hosts welcome back Virat Kohli, who was rested from their New Zealand tour. The bowling duo of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Kuldeep Yadav is rested for the T20Is. The Indian Premier League success stars Siddharth Kaul and Mayank Markande are in the squad, but may not get a game here.
Jasprit Bumrah returns to lead the bowling unit, but it remains to be seen if all-rounder Vijay Shankar gets to show his bowling prowess. Rishabh Pant and KL Rahul will look to impress in their bid to gain a place in the World Cup squad.
India Predicted XI: 1 Shikhar Dhawan 2 Rohit Sharma 3 Virat Kohli 4 KL Rahul 5 MS Dhoni (WK) 6 Rishabh Pant 7 Vijay Shankar 8 Krunal Pandya 9 Umesh Yadav 10 Yuzvendra Chahal 11 Jasprit Bumrah
Australia have come to India with the same squad for T20Is and ODIs. That means the players will have time to build rhythm and make a push for a World Cup squad place. None more so than D’Arcy Short and Kane Richardson.
Both have had an excellent Big Bash League (BBL08) with Short ending as the highest scorer and Richardson the highest wicket-taker. The opener slot is still up for takes, even as captain Aaron Finch looks to build momentum.
Australia Predicted XI: 1 Aaron Finch 2 D’Arcy Short 3 Peter Handscomb 4 Marcus Stoinis 5 Glenn Maxwell 6 Ashton Turner 7 Alex Carey (WK) 8 Nathan Coulter-Nile 9 Pat Cummins 10 Adam Zampa 11 Kane Richardson
Fantasy Players to Watch
Virat Kohli loves playing Australia and already has 488 runs against them – the highest by a player again any T20I opponent. Even this venue has been a lucky one for Kohli, with scores of 118, 117, 99, 65, 167, 81 & 158* in internationals here.
Marcus Stoinis is coming off an excellent BBL season, where he got the Melbourne Stars to the final. His all-round skills (533 runs, 14 wickets) are a great combination to have.
D’Arcy Short hasn’t yet cemented a place in the international side, but is coming off a great BBL08.
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