India vs Australia, First T20I, Match Preview 

India and Australia kick start the T20I series in Manuka Oval after a competitive ODI assignment. Australia and India both stand at second and third place respectively in ICC T20I Rankings. 

Match Timings: Dec 04, 1:40 PM IST 

Team Preview 

After finding a light source in this long Australian tunnel, Team India will start the T20I series on Friday. The story in the shorter format of white-ball cricket is slightly different. Under Virat Kohli, Men in Blue have defeated all the big teams in recent T20I assignments. This year, they whitewashed Kiwis in T20I to become the only team in the world who won all 5 matches in a T20I series. In home season, they remained unbeaten against South Africa, Bangladesh, and West Indies. Ahead of the T20 World Cup at home, India would try its bench in the upcoming T20I series, and the first assignment against Australia would be a big one. India’s performance in the ODI series was not up to the mark, but it’s a different format, and Kohli’s troops can get over this hurdle. 

KL Rahul and Dhawan will open for India, who had a tremendous T20 season with the bat in UAE. In middle-order, Kohli can choose either Iyer or Manish Pandey, followed by Pandya at number 5. Washington Sundar will be seen along with Jadeja, but three spin options would be a tough call on Canberra’s surface as Chahal is already a prime spinner for India in the T20s. Kohli can pick both Iyer and Pandey to boost the middle-order, or he can go with Sundar over Pandey to find an extra bowling option. Natarajan can earn the T20I cap as well, and Deepak Chahar, who had a decent T20 season in UAE, can also find a place in the XI. To prepare for the Test series, either Shami or Bumrah can rest from the T20 series. India will also play two warm-up fixtures during the T20 series, and team management can pick players from the white-ball squad. 

In the last two T20I series Down Under, India remained undefeated against Australia. In 2016, they whitewashed Aussies, and in 2018, the series ended in a 1-1 draw. However, Australia defeated India in 2019 in away series, which is the only T20I series loss for Kohli in the last three years. 

Australia will miss David Warner, who got injured during the 2nd ODI at SCG, and D’archy Short will open with Finch in the T20 series. Short has been a consistent player in the domestic T20 tournament. Labuschagne has also been included in the T20 squad, but team management would drop him to prepare for the Test series. Australia has already rested Pat Cummins, so Andrew Tye can make a way ahead of Abbott in the T20s. Tye has excellent figures in the shorter format. Stoinis is recovering from the injury, and his availability is in doubt. Moises Henriques will continue as an all-round option after a decent ODI series. Henriques played a vital role in winning the title for Sydney in last season’s Australian T20 League. Ashton Agar will also play with Zampa to control runs in middle-overs. 

Australia lost to England in its recent T20I series 2-1 but managed to add a series-win in South Africa. At home, they defeated Sri Lanka and Pakistan last year by not losing a single match. In 2019, Australia also took the top spot in ICC Rankings, and recently, England surpassed the Aussies to take the number one spot in ICC Rankings. The finch-led side has the fine opportunity to take it back against India. 

Pitch Report 

Manuka Oval has a bit of bounce, and the surface offers a fair amount of help to batsmen. Spinners can also trouble in middle-overs, but overall, it’s a wicket where we expect a high-score, considering both sides' form. Chasing side will indeed have an advantage. 

Possible XI 

India 

Virat Kohli (c), Shikhar Dhawan, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya, Washington Sundar, Ravindra Jadeja, KL Rahul (wk), Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah/Mohammed Shami, Deepak Chahar, T Natarajan

Australia 

Aaron Finch (c), Steve Smith, D’Arcy Short, Moises Henriques, Glenn Maxwell, Ashton Agar, Alex Carey (wk), Sean Abbott/Andrew Tye, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc, Adam Zampa 

Key Players 

India 

KL Rahul 

Indian T20 League 2020 – M: 14, Runs: 670, Avg: 55.83 

Yuzvendra Chahal

Indian T20 League 2020 – M: 14, Wickets: 21, Avg: 19.29 

Australia 

Steve Smith 

Indian T20 League 2020 – M: 14, Runs: 311, SR: 131.22

ODI series – M: 3, Runs: 216, Avg: 72

Glenn Maxwell 

ODI series – M: 3, Runs: 167, SR: 194.19