Cricket News By TODAYLIVESCORE.INFO - India primed to challenge Australia's T20 supremacy. Harmanpreet is set to return from a thumb injury.
Harmanpreet is set to return from a thumb injury.
On paper, 18 months have elapsed since Australia broke a billion Indian hearts in front of a record 86000+ audience at the MCG to retain the T20 WC trophy and reascertain their unparalleled supremacy in the format. In reality, this is only the third bilateral T20I series for both sides since, and India are closer than ever before to challenge Australia's right to that claim.
Despite little practise with the pink ball, India dictated terms on all four days of the drawn day-night Test that followed two thrilling last-over finishes in the preceding ODIs where if not for an accidental no-ball, India would have been in the lead. Momentum – if there ever is such a thing on an international assignment where three formats are packed together with such little turnaround time between each – is on India's side even if it's Australia who enjoy the two-point edge on the leaderboard.
It has its pitfalls, though. Skipper Harmanpreet Kaur (thumb injury) isn't the only one from the squad to have not featured in this multi-format series yet. Shikha Pandey, expected to lead the pace attack in the absence of veteran Jhulan Goswami, and Jemimah Rodrigues, back among runs in the shortest format, have so far warmed the bench and watched the competition grow manifold over the space of a handful of games. Whether or not India are able to ride that high, and score the equaliser on Friday in the first of the three T20Is, will depend on if those on the sidelines can hit the ground running when the opportunity presents itself.
Results wise, India hasn't had the best of years and they go in needing to win at least two matches to avoid a hattrick of (T20I) series defeats since their runners-up medal at the MCG podium. The team has undergone metamorphosis though, with more influx of all-rounders in the lower-middle order giving them better batting depth. Barring probably the openers' slots and that of their captain, returning from a blow to the thumb, India have options aplenty in nearly every position which bodes well for the side Conditions at the Metricon stadium will decide who gets lucky among them.
Australia, on the other hand, have stayed true to their allrounder-heavy strategy. Given their batting depth and potential, it's hard to question that rationale. The top-five pick themselves but there's stiff competition in the allrounders and bowlers camp. The hosts, however, have left little doubt over the fact that they'll use their young pacers on a rotational basis and Ellyse Perry, too, could be seen only in a supporting role in the shortest format.
India are the only side to have twice defeated Australia on their soil since 2017, albeit also losing two all-important finales eventually on the same trip last year. But, if their seamless adjustment to pink-ball cricket on day-night Test debut is any evidence, India have now also learnt how not to let the enormity of the occasion get the better of them.
When: Thursday, October 7 at 6:40 PL Local | 2:10 PM IST
Where: Metricon Stadium, Gold Coast
What to expect: Partly cloudy skies to welcome the fast-paced cricket but rain isn't likely to intervene. The make-up of the pitch will dictate playing combinations but there's little doubt that both sides would prefer chasing with dew expected to become a factor again in the evening game.
Without Rachael Haynes, the home side's balance has been thrown off a tad. They have replaced the vice-captain with an all-rounder instead of an opener in Georgia Redmayne, and that trend could likely continue in the T20Is as well. Australia's pace bench got a boost with the return of Tayla Vlaeminck, and the hosts would likely rotate their pacers in combinations given there's WBBL right ahead. Speaking of, Hannah Darlington could be in line for her T20I debut having made a name for herself as a death overs specialist last WBBL with either or both of Darcie Brown and Stella Campbell making the way. Nicola Carey is on the comeback radar too with Tahlia McGrath likely to receive her maiden T20I cap as early as tomorrow.
With a problem of plenty in the middle order, India would likely resist the temptation of handing Yastika Bhatia a third maiden cap on this trip just yet. However, there are more pressing questions facing India. Has Jemimah Rodrigues done enough in an ‘unrecognised' format [The Hundred] to claim her spot back from Harleen Deol at No. 3? Is there a place for Shikha Pandey, the senior-most pacer on tour who hasn't played a game yet across formats? Can Pooja Vastrakar, on a dream comeback tour, continue to keep Sneh Rana the finisher out of the XI? The answer to all those could be a yes at least to start the series with. Harmanpreet and Rodrigues's return gives India plenty of potential off-spin options in their top-half itself, meaning the specialist position at No. 11 could go to leggie Poonam Yadav with her terrific record against the opponents.
Australia: Meg Lanning (c), Darcie Brown, Maitlan Brown, Stella Campbell, Nicola Carey, Hannah Darlington, Ashleigh Gardner, Alyssa Healy, Tahlia McGrath, Sophie Molineux, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Georgia Redmayne, Molly Strano, Annabel Sutherland, Tayla Vlaeminck, Georgia Wareham
India T20I squad: Harmanpreet Kaur (c), Smriti Mandhana (vc), Shafali Verma, Jemimah Rodrigues, Deepti Sharma, Sneh Rana, Yastika Bhatia, Shikha Pandey, Meghna Singh, Pooja Vastrakar, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Poonam Yadav, Richa Ghosh (wk), Harleen Deol, Arundhati Reddy, Radha Yadav, Renuka Singh.