The compelling India vs Australia rivalry has always been gripping. While both the teams have seen their customary ups and downs during the last decade or so, it can be safely said that India has seen
more ups than downs. While it was the fearsome duo of Lillee and Thomson some 38 years ago, today it is 1993 born Jasprit Bumrah landing in Australia as the best bowler in the world and 1988 born Virat Kohli as the best batsman.
Its such an awesome turn of destiny. In between, India did avail the services of Dennis Lillee at MRF foundation. Today, the fortunes look upwards only for Team India, as the bar gets raised higher and higher.
On the contrary, Australian cricket is in all sorts of trouble today – on and off the field. The ball tampering controversy in South Africa has taken a heavy toll on Australian cricket. There have been multiple changes at the admin level too. On the field Australia keep missing Steve Smith, David Warner. In their absence, Australia have struggled in white-ball cricket, winning just four of 11 Twenty20 Internationals and losing the rest, and losing all but one of eight one-day internationals.
In recent months, Australia lost to:
– England in a one-off game in June,
– Pakistan in the T20I tri-series final in Zimbabwe,
– Pakistan 3-0 again in the bilateral series in the UAE, and
– South Africa in a rain-curtailed one-off match.
India, on the other hand, are a picture of confidence. They have won their previous seven T20I series since November 2017, and their last loss in T20I was against West Indies in July 2017.
The last time India toured Australia and played T20Is was in 2016 and India had won 3-0. Virat Kohli’s batting exploits took centre-stage when he scored 199 runs in three innings during that T20I series’ whitewash.Team India is presently being superbly led by Virat Kohli, arguably the best batsman in the world at the moment. Volumes have already been written on his on-field exploits, and he has an enviable fan following across the world. He needs no introduction, he lets his achievements do all the talking for him.At the beginning of the tour, here are some quotable quotes from him.
“Aggression for me is to win the match at any cost,”
“The situation is not ideal for Australia. The Australians remain as strong as ever and cannot be taken lightly.”
“There’s no denying the quality they have in their side.”
“India won’t back down if lines are crossed”
Virat Kohli is back in the T20I scheme of things for India. He skipped the T20 home series against the Windies which India won handsomely. The awesome strength of Team India’s bench can thus be gauged : That it can afford to spare Virat Kohli for a rest. (See: India V WI)
Virat’s return surely adds to India’s strength. and it will be interesting to see how Aaron Finch-led Australia play aggressively against India.
Australia are without the services of experienced heads – Warner and Smith – both serving bans for involvement in ball tampering saga, and Shane Watson – who has retired. Watson was a part in 2016 series.
Virat’s counterpart, Aaron Finch, wants Australia to play aggressively against India.
Against this backdrop, India begin their campaign as clear favorites for the tour that gets underway with the T20s today in Brisbane. The millions of followers of the game don’t see any loss of sheen in the contest as is made out to be. They are keenly looking forward to some awesome events to unfold that Destiny has in store for them.
A start with T20 is an appropriate stage for both teams to have a measure of each others’ confidence. A win for Australia would reignite its morale and reopen India’s woes on away tours.
As announced with the 12-man squad for the first T20I, Manish Pandey will warm the bench and Rishabh Pant will keep wickets for India. India retains KL Rahul in the playing XI despite managing only 16, 26* and 17 against the West Indies earlier. With that, India will perhaps drop a spin option and play three seamers on a fast bowler friendly track at The Gabba. In Hardik Pandya’s absence, brother Krunal will most likely come in.
India 12-man squad: Virat Kohli (capt), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Dinesh Karthik, Rishabh Pant (wk), Krunal Pandya, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Khaleel Ahmed.
Australia squad: Aaron Finch (capt), Ashton Agar, Jason Behrendorff, Alex Carey, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Chris Lynn, Ben McDermott, Glenn Maxwell, D’Arcy Short, Billy Stanlake, Marcus Stoinis, Andrew Tye, Adam Zampa.