The tour to India hasn’t yielded the desired result for Steve Smith & Co. as they were hammered by the hosts 4-1 in the ODI series. The only victory in Bengaluru was a hard-fought one that saved the Australians from a humiliating whitewash. Virat Kohli and his men proved to be simply too good for the opposition and it didn’t seem like 2 equal sides were against each other.
The formats change now as the two teams brace themselves for the 3-T20I series, first of which will be played at the JSCA International Stadium Complex, Ranchi, the home of MS Dhoni. It will be only the second T20I to be played at the venue. The only game was won by India against Sri Lanka last year.
Australia will hope for better returns from shortest format of the game but they won’t have forgotten the 3-0 clean sweep that India handed them the last time these 2 teams met down under. The hosts have an upper hand as they have won 9 out of the 13 T20Is played between the 2 countries. Additionally, they have won the past 6 meetings against the Aussies.
The personnels have changed for Australia with quite a few T20 specialists have flown to the country. On the other hand, the core of Indian team remains pretty much the same and the spinners are once again ready to haunt the opposition. It will be a big test for Australia as the men in blue will be ruthless once more.
Shikhar Dhawan has made a return to the side after missing out on the ODI series and he’ll open the innings alongside Rohit Sharma who had a tremendous ODI series where he ended up being the leading run-getter. Virat Kohli will bat at his usual No.3 and will be itching to score big after a below-par ODI series as per his standards.
It will be interesting to see who bats at No.4. India experimented with Hardik Pandya earlier and to tackle the spinners, he might get a promotion here as well. Kedar Jadhav looks a certainty in the XI but there will be a race between Manish Pandey and KL Rahul for a spot in the middle-order. Regardless of where MS Dhoni bats, he is bound to get the loudest cheer from his home crowd.
The bowling unit looks a formidable one due to the presence of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah. Both can bowl equally well at the start and at the death. Ashish Nehra is also in the side but he might have to wait for his chances in the XI. From the 3 spinners – Axar Patel, Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav, it will be a happy headache for Kohli to pick 2 as all of them did a great job in the ODIs.
David Warner and Aaron Finch found great form in the last 3 ODIs and will be very crucial for Australia’s chances. A lot will rest on what kind of start the duo provides at the top. The skipper Steve Smith has had a forgettable tour so far with the bat and he would be desperate to make amends.
The middle-order comprising of Glenn Maxwell, Travis Head, Moises Henriques and Tim Paine can be explosive but they will have a stern test against the spinners. The way they handle the turners will determine the course of the match.
Nathan Coulter-Nile had a wonderful run in the ODIs where he ended up as the leading wicket-taker. Once again, he will hold the key with the new ball. Kane Richardson too did well bowling at the death. The T20 specialist pacer Andrew Tye might get a look in straightaway. The leg-spinner Adam Zampa hasn’t had a great time on the tour and he will be under the pump yet again.
India: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli (c), Manish Pandey, MS Dhoni (wk), Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Axar Patel, Jasprit Bumrah, Yuzvendra Chahal
Australia: David Warner, Aaron Finch, Steve Smith (c), Glenn Maxwell, Travis Head, Moises Henriques, Tim Paine (wk), Nathan Coulter-Nile, Kane Richardson, Adam Zampa, Andrew Tye
Here is our prediction for the game
Case1: If India bat first
First Innings score prediction: 175-185
Result prediction: India will win the match by 5-10 runs
Case2: If Australia bat first
First Innings score prediction: 150-160
Result prediction: India will win the match by 6 wickets
T20Is in Ranchi: 1
Won batting first: 1, Won batting second: 0
Going by the recent form of the 2 sides, the hosts will be the favorites to win. The pitch in Ranchi has been historically spin-friendly and if that’s the case for the first T20I as well, India will be in a huge advantage.