India favourites in series opener

Australia aim to put lean phase behind

Virat Kohli will return to the Indian side at the helm as the men in blue prepare to take on the Aussies in their much-anticipated tour starting with three T20Is on November 21.

Australia have always been strong at home but the absence of Steve Smith and David Warner will mean that the Aaron Finch led side will have a lot to do and prove when they take the field at the Gabba in Brisbane.

Before these two heavyweights lock horns, we take a close look at what can be on offer in this high voltage T20I series.

From the Indian dugout:

India have left out Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Washington Sundar and Umesh Yadav for the first T20I. Krunal Pandya finds himself in the mix and is expected to make it to the XI because of his all-round abilities with likely one of the two wrist-spinners in Kuldeep Yadav or Yuzvendra Chahal to miss out.

Jasprit Bumrah will return to lead the attack along with Bhuvneshwar Kumar. India will pin their hopes on the duo who are expected to play all the three-formats in this tour.

Rohit Sharma, in the past, had mentioned how the team uses Bumrah differently in different formats making him more effective.

Apart from them, left-arm pacer Khaleel Ahmed will also play a pivotal role down-under.

India’s batting looks strong on paper. Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan, the most successful opening partnership in T20Is are quite capable of turning games around all by themselves.

Australia have mentioned their willingness to challenge Rohit with the short ball especially with the square boundaries being bigger so this will be a very interesting battle up front considering the form that Rohit is in.

Rohit and Dhawan will be followed by Virat Kohli at number three who himself is a force to reckon with no matter what the format is. KL Rahul is expected to bat at number four and he will have a point to prove especially with the likes of Pandey and Iyer warming the bench.

Rishabh Pant has lost a bit of form but when he bats at number five with the license to kill, India will hope for him to only flourish in his natural habitat. India have more depth in their batting line-up in the form of Dinesh Karthik and Krunal Pandya.

From the Australian dugout:

Australia lost their lone T20I to South Africa recently which ended up being a 10-over affair but the Kangaroos will be aiming to put together a performance and challenge the second-ranked Indian team. Aaron Finch and Chris Lynn have been out of form but everyone knows what they are capable of. Australia have also invested a lot of time in D’Arcy Short, who will take the vital number three position and possibly have a last go at proving himself at the highest stage.

Glenn Maxwell will shoulder the middle order along with an in-form Marcus Stoinis who has the ability to accelerate at any stage of the game.

Australia further have Ben Mcdermott and Alex Carey to bolster their batting along with the services of Nathan Coulter-Nile who also has the ability to the hit the long ball.

The home side will most likely field no specialist spinner and play an all-pacers attack comprising of Jason Behrendorff, Billy Stanlake and Andrew Tye apart from Nathan.


Rohit vs Behrendorff:

Cut to October 2017, Guwahati. Playing only his second T20I, Jason Behrendorff rocked India’s top-order to dismiss Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli and Manish Pandey very early in the game. Australia won that match eventually as Jason Behrendorff’s swing early on became a talking point. His form was overshadowed by an injury that kept him out of the 2018 IPL.

His ability to move the ball and trouble the right-handers will play a massive part in deciding the fate of this series. Rohit Sharma, his captain at Mumbai Indians, will be aware of the threat that he possesses and will aim to shield India’s middle order from getting exposed to him.

We all know what the Hitman is capable of on his given day and that is exactly what all Indian fans will be hoping for when these two sides meet in the series opener.