With the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup around the corner, India will aim to bounce back from their disappointing Asia Cup campaign (even if they insist it wasn’t all that bad) when they face Australia in a three-match T20 International series, beginning in Mohali on Tuesday.
India entered as defending champions at the Asia Cup recently but defeats in the Super Fours stage to Pakistan and eventual winners Sri Lanka meant they couldn’t reach the final. With the World Cup just weeks away, it was a less-than-ideal result for Rohit Sharma and Co and they will look to gain some much-needed momentum against the Aussies.
For India, the return of pacers Jasprit Bumrah and Harshal Patel is a big positive. The duo missed out on the Asia Cup due to injuries and their absence was felt. Umesh Yadav is in as well, replacing Mohammed Shami who tested positive for Covid-19, and Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Deepak Chahar are the other pacers in the squad.
Bumrah and Harshal are likely to get game-time immediately and it’ll be interesting to see if India opt for a third pacer in the playing XI, considering the home conditions and the fact that Hardik Pandya is in the squad too as a seam bowling option.
In terms of spinners, there are Yuzvendra Chahal, R Ashwin and Axar Patel. Chahal has proved to be expensive in the past but has been providing breakthroughs and India are likely to persist with him with the World Cup coming up. Ravindra Jadeja’s absence due to injury could lead to Axar getting a look as well during the series as the balance of the side continues to remain a little skewed.
Rohit and KL Rahul will open the batting, as hinted strongly enough by the captain, and the focus will be on strike-rates even if the vice-captain feels it is sometimes misunderstood by analysts. Rohit got a couple of quick starts in the Asia Cup and the skipper will be keen on carrying forward that form against Australia. Rahul, meanwhile, is still trying to settle in after making a comeback at the Asia Cup and will be expected to take some pressure off Rohit and start strong.
“It (strike-rate) is something I am working on,” said Rahul in the press conference ahead of the first T20I against Australia.
“Obviously, the goals have been defined to each player in the last 10-12 months. Everyone has a clear understanding as to what is expected out of him. I am just working towards how can I better myself as an opening batter and see how I can have the most impact. Team environment has allowed players to learn from their mistakes.”
Virat Kohli, who got his long-awaited 71st international century during the Asia Cup, will be confident and India will expect him to keep up the aggressive approach once he gets his eye. Despite the century coming as an opener, the former captain remains the favourite for the No 3 position and the team will be hoping he continues his good recent touch.
The middle order will once again be the most challenging bit for the team management. With Suryakumar Yadav and Hardik Pandya being certainties, Rishabh Pant, Dinesh Karthik and Deepak Hooda remain the options for the remaining slots.
Jadeja’s absence means Pant will most-likely be persisted with as a left-hander. Hooda could pip Karthik in the pecking order, like he did at the Asia Cup, because of the off-spin bowling he offers but India will surely be tempted to give DK, their designated finisher, some game-time ahead of the World Cup.
India will play three T20Is against South Africa after the Australia series and a lot will be riding on these six matches. Rohit and coach Rahul Dravid have tried out multiple combinations so far. But now, so close to the World Cup, they will be keen to set things in order quickly.
Schedule for Australia's tour of India 2022
|1st T20I||Tues, Sept 20||Mohali||7 pm IST|
|2nd T20I||Fri, Sept 23||Nagpur||7 pm IST|
|3rd T20I||Sun, Sept 25||Hyderabad||7 pm IST|
The Australian men’s team have a good recent record in India, winning the last three completed T20Is they have played in the country. India won the last bilateral series in the shortest format, played Down Under in December 2020.
IND vs AUS men's T20Is (in India)
|India||7 wickets||Brabourne||20 Oct 2007|
|India||6 wickets||Rajkot||10 Oct 2013|
|India||6 wickets||Mohali||27 Mar 2016|
|India||9 wickets||Ranchi||7 Oct 2017|
|Australia||8 wickets||Guwahati||10 Oct 2017|
|*Abandoned||-||Hyderabad (Deccan)||13 Oct 2017|
|Australia||3 wickets||Visakhapatnam||24 Feb 2019|
|Australia||7 wickets||Bengaluru||27 Feb 2019|
India: Rohit Sharma (c), KL Rahul, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Rishabh Pant (w), Dinesh Karthik, Deepak Hooda, Axar Patel, R Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Harshal Patel, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Deepak Chahar, Umesh Yadav.
Australia: Aaron Finch (c), Matthew Wade (w), Steven Smith, Glenn Maxwell, Tim David, Cameron Green, Ashton Agar, Pat Cummins, Sean Abbott, Adam Zampa, Josh Hazlewood, Daniel Sams, Kane Richardson, Josh Inglis, Nathan Ellis.
All matches will be shown on the Star Sports network and Hotstar app.