Presence of Washington, Chahar and Natarajan lends balance to bowling; Australia will look to retain momentum
Short of resources in ODIs, India will have enough options to choose from to pose a stiffer challenge to Australia when the two sides clash in a three-match T20 series beginning here on Friday.
The 1-2 ODI series loss reaffirmed that India has a lot of work to do in the 50-over format but it possesses a much more balanced squad in the shortest format.
Before the pandemic suspended sporting activities around the world, India had blanked host New Zealand in a five-match series and it will be taking a lot of confidence out of that result into the contest against Australia.
The presence of Washington Sundar, Deepak Chahar and T. Natarajan, who did well on his ODI debut on Wednesday, lends much-needed balance to the bowling department.
High on confidence
Washington will be high on confidence after a solid IPL where Royal Challengers Bangalore and India skipper Virat Kohli used him effectively in the PowerPlay and middle overs.
With Hardik Pandya not bowling regularly, India had only one specialist all-rounder in Ravindra Jadeja in the one-dayers.
However, in the T20s, Kohli will also have the services of Washington in both the departments and there is a possibility that Hardik can roll his arm over for a brief spell like he did from the second ODI onwards.
Yorker specialist Natarajan, who was a late addition to the ODI squad, could also make his T20 debut on Friday having shown enough promise in his maiden international appearance.
Manuka Oval surface
Unlike the SCG, the Manuka Oval surface had enough for both the spinners and pacers. It will be interesting to see who opens up the bowling alongside Jasprit Bumrah with the toss-up being between Mohammad Shami and Deepak Chahar.
Yuzvendra Chahal, who had a forgettable outing in the ODIs, will also be looking to bounce back.
In batting, K.L. Rahul, who batted at five in ODIs, is expected to go back to his preferred opening slot alongside Shikhar Dhawan.
The in-form wicketkeeper batsman had also opened in the previous series against New Zealand and would be expected to bat the bulk of the 20 overs like he did so well in the IPL.
Skipper Kohli looked in good touch in ODIs and will be aiming to build on that while number four Shreyas Iyer will be targetting big scores from great starts like he did in the preceding three-match series.
As Kohli mentioned, the win in the inconsequential third ODI was just the kind of result India needed ahead of the T20 series, else the tour would have gotten harder.
Australia, after naming the same squad for ODIs as well as T20s, will back themselves to beat India after a clinical display over the last one week despite injury concerns.
Star batsman David Warner is unavailable due to a groin injury and it remains to be seen if Marnus Labuschagne comes alongside skipper Aaron Finch on Friday like they both did a night ago.
Marcus Stoinis would have been another good opening option with Finch but he too is a doubtful starter due to a side injury he suffered during the ODIs.
Mitchell Starc, who was rested on Wednesday, is expected to return to bolster the attack even as the side misses the services of Pat Cummins, who has been rested as part of the his workload management.
The squads: India: Virat Kohli (captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Mayank Agarwal, KL Rahul (vice-captain and wicket-keeper), Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya, Sanju Samson (wicket-keeper), Ravindra Jadeja, Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohd. Shami, Navdeep Saini, Deepak Chahar, T. Natarajan.
Australia: Aaron Finch (captain), Sean Abbott, Ashton Agar, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Moises Henriques, Marnus Labuschagne, Glenn Maxwell, Daniel Sams, Kane Richardson, Steven Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade, A’Arcy Short, Adam Zampa.
Match starts 1.40 p.m. IST