Mohali: India will look to sort out their combinations, especially in the middle-order, while giving a final shape to their plans and preparations for the T20 World Cup when a three-match home series against Australia begins here Tuesday.
Though a few fast bowlers will be rested over the course of six games before the World Cup — three matches against South Africa to follow after the Australia series — India have a full-strength squad at their disposal to finalise combinations.
The T20 format is a lot about being flexible but as he mentioned ahead of the first T20, India skipper Rohit Sharma would like to get ‘all the answers’ from his players before the flagship ICC event in Australia.
Though India did bat well in the Asia Cup, they did resort to a lot of changes during the tournament. Their lack of depth in the bowling department was also exposed but Harshal Patel and Jasprit Bumrah are now back to bolster the attack.
Rohit has made it clear that K L Rahul will be his opening partner in Australia but there is a possibility that Virat Kohli gets to open alongside him. With the star batter scoring a memorable hundred in his last T20 innings, there will always be a temptation to make him bat at the top.
The top-four are pretty much sorted but the jury is still out on the role of wicketkeepers Rishabh Pant and Dinesh Karthik in the playing eleven.
With Ravindra Jadeja injured, will India keep the left-handed Pant over Karthik who is a designated finisher in the squad? Karthik, who hardly got to bat in the Asia Cup, would be hoping for substantial game time over the next two weeks.
Deepak Hooda played all the Super 4 games in the UAE but a lack of clarity remains over his role in the side.
Jadeja’s injury during the Asia Cup upset the bowling balance of the team. From six bowling options, India were forced to play with five bowlers.
If India play both Hardik Pandya and Jadeja’s like-for-like replacement, Axar Patel, the team will have the extra bowling option.
Axar and Yuzvendra Chahal can be the two spinners with Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Harshal and Hardik forming the pace attack.
The conditions in Australia will be vastly different from here and the management will go about its business keeping that in mind.
Australia, on the other hand, have come to India without few of their main players including David Warner (rested).
Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis and Mitchell Marsh, who are nursing minor injuries ahead of the World Cup, have also stayed back in Australia.
The focus will be on skipper Aaron Finch, who recently retired from ODIs after a prolonged lean patch. He will be aiming for a bagful for runs ahead of the World Cup at home.
Another player who has attracted a lot of attention is power-hitter Tim David who is set to make his Australia debut after playing international cricket for Singapore.
David has made a name for himself with his performances in the T20 leagues around the world and he would be looking to replicate that at the highest level.
Australia: Sean Abbott, Ashton Agar, Pat Cummins, Tim David, Nathan Ellis, Aaron Finch (c), Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Josh Inglis, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, Daniel Sams, Steve Smith, Matthew Wade, Adam Zampa.
India: Rohit Sharma (c), KL Rahul (vc), Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Deepak Hooda, Rishabh Pant, Dinesh Karthik, Hardik Pandya, Ravichandaran Ashwin, Yuzvendra Chahal, Axar Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Harshal Patel, Deepak Chahar, Jasprit Bumrah, Umesh Yadav.
Match starts 7.30 IST.