It’s a fast moving summer, with just a day break in between the ODI series ending and the T20I series starting. After a relatively uncompetitive series in the one dayers, we should be set for a cracking T20I series, with the number two ranked Aussies facing the number three ranked Indians. The Australians have been a vastly improved T20 outfit across the last two years but with some injuries to key players, the Aussies will be seriously challenged against a strong Indian side.
Ashton Agar picked up a calf injury in the third ODI and will be an unlikely starter, in a massive loss for Australia. Agar has taken 13 wickets in his last six T20 matches and has been crucial in the middle overs in tandem with Adam Zampa. The last three series have been tight between the two nations, with Australia taking the last series 2-0 away from home, whilst the two series preceding were drawn 1-1.
India has been in excellent form in T20I cricket. Since their 2-0 loss to Australia in February 2019, they have won five of their last six series, with a tied series against South Africa the only blemish on an otherwise perfect record. After finally getting their first win of the tour, India will be full of momentum heading into the series.
1st T20I, Friday 4th December, Manuka Oval, 7:10pm AEDT
Australian squad: Aaron Finch (c), Sean Abbott, Ashton Agar, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Moises Henriques, Marnus Labuschagne, Glenn Maxwell, Daniel Sams, D'Arcy Short, Steven Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, Andrew Tye, Matthew Wade, Adam Zampa
Indian squad: Virat Kohli (c), Shikhar Dhawan, Mayank Agarwal, KL Rahul, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya, Sanju Samson, Ravindra Jadeja, Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Navdeep Saini, Deepak Chahar, T Natarajan
The Aussies have become a vastly improved T20 outfit since Justin Langer has taken over as head coach. They lost their last series in September this year against England 2-1 after not playing for six months due to the pandemic, however the Aussies won their previous four series before that. Injuries will challenge the makeup of the Australian side with David Warner, Pat Cummins and Ashton Agar all to be out with injury, whilst Mitchell Starc and Marcus Stoinis will be battling to be available for selection.
There won’t be many doubts over Australia’s ability to score but given the injury worries, they will have serious troubles trying to restrict the powerful batting line up that India possess. Adam Zampa is going to be under a mountain of pressure to produce without the likes of Cummins, Starc and Agar. Zampa has been a star performer in white ball cricket over the last two years, but can he perform with an inexperienced attack around him?
Captain Aaron Finch has had a red hot start to the summer, smashing scores 114, 65 and 70 in the ODI series. His T20I form in 2020 has been very good, posting scores of 42, 14, 55, 46, 40 and 39 averaging 39.33 at a strike rate of 141.33. India is one of Finch’s favourite teams to play against in the T20 format, scoring 405 runs at an average of 31 and a strike rate of 137. Finch has top scored for Australia’s last two T20I’s, and was second top scorer in the two games before that. With the form Finch is in against the white ball, and the pressure he will be under without David Warner in the side, expect Finch to rise to the occasion in Canberra on Friday night.
Whilst it was a dead rubber on Wednesday night in the third ODI, it was a crucial victory for the team on what is a tough tour that could’ve gotten away from them early. Their team balance was much better in the third ODI, which produced a much better performance with ball in hand. Bumrah looks to have rediscovered his form, whilst the selection of Kuldeep Yadav ahead of Yuzvendra Chahal worked wonders. India’s batsmen led by Virat Kohli and Hardik Pandaya have been in great form, and they won’t have any troubles transferring that form to the T20 arena with the tempo they’ve scored at.
India have won their last eight T20I matches in a row and have consistently been an excellent T20 team since the format came to the international area. They possess a dynamic batting line up that bats right through, and a bowling attack with genuine pace, world class death bowling and elite spinners. After the important win in the third one dayer, India will be full of confidence coming up against an undermanned Australian side.
Whilst Jasprit Bumrah has struggled in one day cricket in 2020, he has had no such struggles in the T20 format. Bumrah has 8 wickets at an average of 20.75 and an economy rate of 6.38. Not only has Bumrah performed well this year, but he’s had plenty of success against Australia. Bumrah has taken more wickets against Australia than any other opposition in T20I, with 15 wickets at an average of 20.13. Bumrah got back to his best in the third one dayer with 2/43, and expect him to carry on that form into the T20I series.
Unlike the ODI series, this series is going to be an incredibly close affair. Australia start as the favourites, but with the injury problems the Aussies are facing with no Cummins, Warner, Agar and potentially no Starc and Stoinis the Indians should be full of confidence as they’ll be facing an undermanned side. Not only are they taking on an undermanned side, but India are in incredible form, winning their last eight T20I matches. The batting form they’ve started on this tour should carry to the T20 format given the strike rate their top order has gone at, so if the bowlers come to the party like they did in the third ODI, India should take home the first game of the series.
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