India-Australia T20I series, an opportunity for fringe players to excel

Visakhapatnam: Why is this India-Australia T20I series relevant, which begins here on Thursday? This is the red-hot question simmering on the heels of a fantastic 50-over World Cup. And an apt answer to it is that it offers an opportunity for fringe players to stake their claim in the casket of international cricket.

For India, it gives another chance for the national selectors to look at the newcomers. Ruturaj Gaikwad will be in contention for another wicketkeeping option, besides Ishan Kishan and Jitesh Sharma, who had captained India at the Hangzhou Asian Games.

Gaikwad has been named Suryakumar Yadav’s deputy in the first three matches of the series before handing the responsibility to Shreyas Iyer.

India’s top-order might be shouldered by Gaikwad, Yashasvi Jaiswal and Ishan Kishan, and the middle-order might be commanded by Rinku Singh and Tilak Varma, besides Suryakumar and Jitesh may come before the all rounders and tailenders come in.

Ravi Bishnoi has been given preference over an experienced wrist spinner Yuzvendra Chahal, dropping a hint that the latter would not be in the scheme of things for the next T20 World Cup after the national selectors had also dropped him for the ODI World Cup.

Bowling-allounders Washington Sundar and Axar Patel, could be seen bowling in tandem with Bishnoi in the middle overs.

Suryakumar would like to utilise this series to redeem himself as he failed to set the stage on fire in the ODI format so far. He could only manage 106 runs in seven matches at an average of 17.66. However, some concession would be granted to him as he did not get a long run in the middle, but once did he got and scored 49 in 47 balls on a tough wicket at the Bharat Ratna Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ekana Stadium in Lucknow.

Hardik Pandya is missing the series due to an ankle injury which suffered trying to stop a drive off his own bowling in India’s World Cup match against Bangladesh.

For the Aussies, the series is another chance for newcomers Matt Short, Aaron Hardie and Tanveer Sangha to prove their mettle, and a significant opportunity for Steve Smith to press his case as a T20 opener following his Big Bash fireworks last summer.

Like Team India, Australia too have not announced a full-strength side. A host of players, including fast bowling trio Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood have been rested from the series, as have all rounders Mitchell Marsh and Cameron Green.

David Warner was initially named in the squad but has been withdrawn, meaning another opportunity for allrounder Hardie.

Travis Head, Glenn Maxwell, Smith and Adam Zampa, who played in the ODI World Cup, are all included in the squad. Just how many will get into the Playing XI it remains to be seen, with Head guided Australia to the World Cup title win with a superlative century against India in the final.

World Cup squad members Sean Abbott and Marcus Stoinis have also been included for the T20Is, as is Sangha, who travelled with the World Cup squad as a reserve player.

In addition, coming in fresh are Matthew Wade, who skippers the team, Jason Behrendorff, Tim David, Nathan Ellis, Matt Short and Kane Richardson.

Head coach Andrew McDonald also flew home on Wednesday with assistant Andre Borovec to take over for the T20s.

In head-to-head encounters between the two nations, India scores over Australia by winning 15 out of the 27 T20Is since 2007, with one being washed out and another abandoned before a ball was bowled.

And out of the 10 matches played in India, the hosts have won six of them, and Australia four. The visitors have won the only multi-game T20I series in India once, in February 2019 when Maxwell starred with 56 and 113 not out as they won 2-0.

In the last faceoff, India clinched the three-match T20I series 2-1 in September last, in a series where Cameron Green announced his arrival in white-ball cricket.

The tall Western Australian smacked 61 from 30m and 52 from 21 as an opener in the first and third matches of this series, which no doubt helped him make richer by A$3.15m price at the IPL auction just a few weeks later.

It remains to be seen how many of the newcomers earn fortunes like Green, and force their selectors to mandatorily pick them up for the next T20 World Cup.

Squads

India T20 squad: Suryakumar Yadav (c), Ruturaj Gaikwad, Ishan Kishan, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Tilak Varma, Rinku Singh, Jitesh Sharma, Washington Sundar, Axar Patel, Shivam Dube, Ravi Bishnoi, Arshdeep Singh, Prasidh Krishna, Avesh Khan, Mukesh Kumar, Shreyas Iyer (last two matches only).

Australia T20 squad: Matthew Wade (c), Aaron Hardie, Jason Behrendorff, Sean Abbott, Tim David, Nathan Ellis, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Glenn Maxwell, Tanveer Sangha, Matt Short, Steve Smith, Marcus Stoinis, Kane Richardson, Adam Zampa

UNI

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