Virat Kohli’s India set to continue dominance vs Australia in T20 series
Virat Kohli’s Indian cricket team, which has won six consecutive games against Australia cricket team in Twenty20 Internationals, will be aiming to continue the dominance in the series opener in Ranchi while Steve Smith’s team will be aiming to break their jinx in the shorter format.Updated: Oct 07, 2017 09:10 IST
The glory ride that Indian cricket team has been on since Virat Kohli took over as captain is showing no signs of slowing down, especially with the Men in Blue getting an extended run at home. The three-match T20I series against Australia, starting on Saturday, is expected to present Indian fans with yet another opportunity to celebrate their favourite team’s success.
Having won their last six T20Is against Australia, Kohli’s men will start favourites when the teams clash at the JSCA Stadium here on Saturday.
Power-hitters vs breakthrough bowlers
While records point to an absolute domination by India, the Australians have in their ranks batsmen who can turn the table singlehandedly. David Warner and Aaron Finch, with enough experience in the Indian Premier League, are the most dangerous opening pair on paper.
The Australian captain Steve Smith also has happy memories of his last T20 outing in Rising Pune Supergiant colours, when, under his leadership, the side finished runners-up. His teammate Glenn Maxwell too was the captain of another IPL team --- Kings XI Punjab --- and has the ability to go for big shots.
But, then, the strength and experience on paper did not result in win in the ODI series and a major reason was that Indian bowlers fought back hard even when the Australians were going full steam. A perfect case in point is the third ODI in Indore, when Australia were 224/1 in the 38th over but in the next 12 overs, they could only take the total to 293/6.
The likes of Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvenshwar Kumar have shown the potential to do well on the big stage. Add to this, veteran Ashish Nehra along with the economical Axar Patel, and the India team management seems to have a problem of plenty.
In four of the five T20Is in 2017, India bowlers have been able to break the opening stand within the first four overs, which only shows their potency.
India’s opening question
India’s batting lineup of mostly set batsmen, like Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and MS Dhoni, has been among runs. The big question, however, is that with the fiery Shikhar Dhawan coming in the squad, will KL Rahul have to sit out?
He could not find a place in the playing XI in the ODI series and now faces the prospect of sitting out of the first T20 as well. He opened for India in the last T20I it played in Sri Lanka and also featured in the England T20I home series in February. But his form in Sri Lanka has left a big question mark on his immediate future?
He is part of the middle-order now in ODIs and, for him to play that same role in T20Is, one among Manish Pandey and Kedar Jadhav will have to sit out. It will be a tough call for the team management, especially with the latter earning the moniker of ‘golden arm’ with his ability to take wickets at crucial junctures.
Hardik Pandya is another crucial cog in the wheel. He has emerged as the big-hitter India needed in the middle-order while his medium pace can be effective.
Ashish Nehra’s role
All three India pacers --- Jasprit Bumrah, Ashish Nehra and Bhuvneshwar Kumar --- have proven their mettle. Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar have been in top form of late in the Sri Lanka series as well as in the ODIs against Australia.
The team management has the task of deciding how Nehra fits in the lineup. He can be a guiding force, but the big question is whether he will do it from the field or off it?
The Australians face no such complications. Nathan Coulter-Nile will be their prime bowler while Jason Behrendorff may make his debut. The rest of the bowling burden is likely to be shared by all-rounders Dan Christian, Moises Henriques and spinner Adam Zampa.
Ranchi has been receiving regular rain over the last couple of days but chief curator SB Singh said they are prepared for any situation in case of rain, which is predicted for Saturday as well.
Even India’s practice session was hampered due to rain on Friday. They could be seen playing football just outside the dressing room, but their practice session was cancelled. However, Australia practised later in the evening as rain had subsided by then.
First Published: Oct 06, 2017 17:09 IST