Ranchi: After outplaying Australia thoroughly in the ODI series, Virat Kohli and his men would undoubtedly be the favourites when they take the field against Australia in the first of the three T20I’s in Ranchi on Saturday.
Australia haven’t had a great time in the shortest format of the game and it is not a surprise that are yet to win a World T20. They would be all the more under pressure this time because nothing has gone their way in the tour so far, barring that one game in Bengaluru. Their batting has been their biggest concern and despite the good starts provided by the openers in the last three matches, they failed to cross the line on two occasions, thus signalling the hapless state of affairs in the team. Even coach David Saker admitted of the Aussies being ‘scared’ of the hosts.
The visitors face an uphill task, if they are to topple the Men in Blue in the three-match T20I series beginning on Saturday. Skipper Steve Smith played a T20I way back in the World T20 against the Indians themselves. Opening batsman David Warner played for Australia in the format a year ago and they lost the home T20I
series to Sri Lanka earlier this year. The only thing that the Australians could look up to is the fresh faces in the form of all-rounder Moises Henriques, Daniel Christian, Tim Paine, Andrew Tye and Jason Behrendorff to make an impact.
For the record, India have won their last six T20I’s against Australia and Virat Kohli needs a 50+ score in the first match to become the first batsman to score five consecutive fifties against an opposition in the shortest format of the game.
India thus would be in a good frame of mind entering into the series. They have performed as a team throughout the ODI series and the presence of the familiar faces in the T20 squad would indeed make things easy for the Indians to carry on with their dominance.
However, their pace bowling department is set to receive a huge boost in the form of 38-year-old Ashish Nehra who is making a comeback to the national team at an age when many consider hanging up their boots. Also, their batting at the top of the order would also be bolstered with the return of Shikhar Dhawan. Skipper Kohli has opened for India in this format of late but he would want to separate the Rohit-Shikhar opening duo who can take a game away on their day.
The Indians could make judicious use of Dinesh Karthik, who had a good time in the middle for India in this format when they took on the West Indies few months ago in a one-off T20I.
India would undoubtedly carry that winning momentum and Smith would indeed need something special from his men if they are to salvage some pride for themselves.