India will look to continue the winning run when they take on Australia in the first T20I at Ranchi on Saturday. India had posted a comprehensive 4-1 win in the ODI series and would look to wrap up the T20I series as well. Australia had lost their last T20I bilateral series against India 0-3 in 2016. And they have a poor record in recent times away from home in limited-overs cricket. They would look to stop the rot and start winning again. Cricwizz takes a look at the strengths and weaknesses of the two teams ahead of the first T20I between India and Australia at Ranchi on Saturday.
Batting firepower: Although India have left out their consistent batsman in Ajinkya Rahane for the T20I series, they have received a boost with Shikhar Dhawan taking the opener’s slot for the series. Dhawan will have to perform as Rahane and other opener in KL Rahul are looking for a permanent berth in limited-overs cricket. Skipper Virat Kohli excels in this format. Hardik Pandya, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni form the explosive middle-order which can finish off games in style. Manish Pandey is also there in the line-up and India could not have asked for more depth in the batting order.
Bowling prowess: India have death-overs specialists in Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah. India may go for experience in Ashish Nehra but it will be tough for the 38-year-old veteran to get into action straightaway. The spin duo of Kuldeep Yadav and YS Chahal have always done better as a pair and Kohli would be tempted to play them both. Then, India also have Axar Patel who has impressed in the few outings so far. And India have all-rounders in Pandya, Jadhav who are more than handy with the ball. Overall, India’s bowling reserves are overflowing.
Complacency: India are coming off a break and might be rusty to start with. On the other hand, Australia have been regular at practice since losing the ODI series. Although India are a stronger team, they have to be careful not to let complacency creeps in. India will have to maintain the same intensity that they showed in the ODI series. Australia will be just looking for one opportunity to knock India out.
Squad: Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, Dinesh Karthik, MS Dhoni, Hardik Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav, YS Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ashish Nehra, Axar Patel
Explosive openers: Australia boast of one of the best explosive opening pairs in Aaron Finch and David Warner. When the two get going, it is difficult to stop them. They helped Australia notch up a solitary win in the ODI series. Warner looks in good touch and he will be raring to have a go at Indian bowlers.
IPL Experience: Nine Australian cricketers in the T20I squad play for one IPL franchisee or the other. They have the knowledge of the conditions and would look to do well in the T20I series and beat India in their own game. Steven Smith, Glenn Maxwell, Finch and Warner will be key to Australia’s chances in the series.
Not ruthless enough: Australian teams of past were known for their ruthlessness and shutting out the opposition. But the current Australia squad has let go their opponents from tight situations, allowing them claw back into the game. If only, Australia had grabbed their chances in the ODI series, the results would have gone their way. They would not look to repeat the same mistake in the T20I series.
Squad: Steven Smith, David Warner, Jason Behrendorff, Daniel Christian, Aaron Finch, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Travis Head, Moises Henriques, Glenn Maxwell, Tim Paine, Kane Richardson, Adam Zampa, Andrew Tye.
Prediction: India have a favourable record over the Aussies in all formats of the game in recent times. Besides, they are on a winning momentum that looks difficult to stop. But Australia would pose a different challenge in the shorter format of the game. It will be a close contest in the T20I series. But India will have their say in the first T20I on Saturday.
Possible winner: India