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Cricket news - India look for small fixes, Australia search for big answers
Academically, this might be just another baseless T20I bilateral series, but with the World Cup looming, there is no missing where the spotlight is being trained. Both India and Australia head to Visakhapatnam with an eye on how they will eventually head to England. While India have more or less settled on the team they believe can take back the trophy from Australia, the defending champions are still casting fishing rods hoping to find themselves the catches that take their team's quality up by a few notches.
It might not be the right format, with the World Cup in mind, but it gives the teams another chance to fine tune their set up. Kohli admitted that they would have been better served if the Vizag and Bengaluru T20s were ODIs instead. But he also added that the T20s will help them polish their death bowling and batting skills atleast. With the IPL coming up too, there will be no dearth for their players to use their format to hone said skills, but as Kohli pointed out, it could lead to 'bad habits' as well, something the players will be extremely wary of.
Australia's players themselves are just returning from their Big Bash League exploits and will hope to use the upcoming series to gel better. Their squads for the T20Is and the ODIs are the same, and should allow them to get into the right rhythm.
India have brought back two key players in Virat Kohli and Jasprit Bumrah, although Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Kuldeep Yadav are rested for the T20s. Hardik Pandya's injury should provide Vijay Shankar with a chance to put on display his all-round skills, and much will depend on how he starts in Vizag.
When: India vs Australia, 1st T20I, 7 PM Local time
Where: Dr. Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy ACA-VDCA Cricket Stadium, Visakhapatnam
What to expect: Hot conditions with little chance of rain and a pitch with runs in it.
India: Mayank Markande and Siddarth Kaul have been called up to the squad, but look unlikely to break into the starting XI. India's main concern will be their middle order. Pant and Rahul both batted ahead of Dinesh Karthik in the nets, and if that's an indication then India could go in with the duo. Umesh Yadav will be the pace partner for Bumrah, but it remains to be seen if the home team will trust Vijay Shankar with a full quota of four overs. If they do, then their batting goes real deep, with Krunal Pandya and Shankar to bat at seven and eight. If they don't, then one of Kaul or Markande might get a look in.
Probable XI: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli (c), KL Rahul/Dinesh Karthik, MS Dhoni, Rishabh Pant, Krunal Pandya, Vijay Shankar, Umesh Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah
Australia: Aaron Finch said they are still unsure of their team ahead of the opener, opting to wait until the day of the match to decide the final XI. They do have a number of options at the top of the order and will have to work out who to partner Finch with as an opener. Shaun Marsh hasn't travelled with the team as he is staying back for the birth of his child.
Squad: Aaron Finch( c), Alex Carey, Usman Khawaja, D'Arcy Short, Marcus Stoinis, Glenn Maxwell, Pat Cummins, Jhye Richardson, Kane Richardson, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Peter Handscomb, Jason Behrendorff, Nathan Lyon, Ashton Turner, Adam Zampa
Did you know
Virat Kohli's 488 runs against Australia is the most by a player against an opponent in T20Is. In Internationals in Vizag, Kohli's scores read: 118, 117, 99, 65, 167, 81 & 158*.
Rohit Sharma needs two more sixes to claim the record for most sixes in T20Is - currently held by Chris Gayle & Martin Guptill both of whom have hit 103 sixes each.
Jasprit Bumrah needs two more wickets to become the second Indian bowler to reach 50 wickets in T20Is after R Ashwin (52).
What they said
"All the people who are going to be part of the World Cup squad, they have to make sure that their games don't go too much away from the one-day mould of things. That means we will have to be very wary of the bad habits that might creep in during the IPL." - Virat Kohli, India captain.
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