After the 2021 T20 World Cup, India has played a total of 29 T20Is en route to this series. Australia has played just nine so far. Regardless of their preparation, Australia could make an appearance at the T20 World Cup in their usual confident fashion – but this time they will have to defend the title in their backyard. And they have to figure out quite a bit compared to their more prepared opponents.
India WLLWW (last five completed matches, most recent first)
In the spotlight
All eyes will be on Tim David, who wants to show his decisiveness, this time in Australian colours. The Singapore-born batter has impressed in several T20 matches, most recently in the IPL, and he will try to replicate his success on the international stage. Aside from his great hitting skills, his ability to tackle both spinners and swifts, he is a must have in any T20 side. He has an average of 32.48 with a strike rate of 164.12 in T20s. In this series, he will likely take the middle spot in the absence of Stoinis. But Australia will not be able to accommodate him if both Stoinis and Marsh are fit when the World Cup starts. It’s Smith’s position that seems a little vulnerable at the moment – but he also has a reputation for being the anchor in the XI – so it remains to be seen how Australia fits David into their XI at the World Cup.
Rishabh Pant failed to quite live up to expectations in the T20 format. In T20Is since 2020, he has averaged just 27.63 and struck at 129.95 in 32 innings. At the Asian Cup, Pant had to be brought into the XI instead of Dinesh Karthik after an injury to Ravindra Jadeja, as India wanted a lefthanded batter in the middle. But he could only make scores of 17 and 14 against Sri Lanka and Pakistan respectively in the Super 4s. While having Pant and Karthik in the squad gives them flexibility, it appears India can only accommodate one of the two in the XI at the moment. Pant will have to use his time in the middle of the upcoming T20Is to get back into shape for the T20 World Cup.
Originally set to recover from a quad bike injury in Bengaluru, Umesh Yadav has been called into the squad after Mohammed Shami tested positive for Covid-19. But with the return of Bumrah and Harshal, India Umesh is unlikely to play in the XI.
India (probably): 1 Rohit Sharma (capt), 2 KL Rahul, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Suryakumar Yadav, 5 Hardik Pandya, 6 Rishabh Pant/ Dinesh Karthik (wk), 7 Axar Patel, 8 Bhuvneshwar Kumar/ Deepak Chahar, 9 Harshal Patel, 10 Yuzvendra Chahal, 11 Jasprit Bumrah
With Marsh absent, Smith will bat at number 3 against India. David appears to be making his debut in Australia in the middle order. Australia is also likely to play Inglis – who has played at number 3 and middle order in T20Is so far – as an opener and push Matthew Wade down in the order. Cameron Green, who has been impressive with the ball and bat, has been brought back into the T20I roster – after playing a solitary game in April this year – and is likely to find a place in the XI as well.
Australia (probably): 1 Aaron Finch (capt), 2 Josh Inglis, 3 Steven Smith, 4 Glenn Maxwell, 5 Matthew Wade (wk), 6 Tim David, 7 Cameron Green, 8 Adam Zampa, 9 Pat Cummins, 10 Josh Hazlewood, 11 Sean Abbott
Location and conditions
Tomorrow is expected to be partly cloudy and humid in Mohali, with a 25% chance of precipitation in the evening. In T20s since 2018, the chasing team has won seven out of eleven matches on the ground. On the eve of the match, Finch said there was “a bit of grass on the wicket”.
“…Only we know what role is expected of each person. Everyone is trying to do their best, and not every time a player will succeed. And that’s the kind of environment we’ve created, that players aren’t afraid to play , or players are not afraid to make mistakes.”
KL Rahul to constant external criticism
“The last thing you want to do is have an injury derail your entire campaign because you’re pigeonholed to play one style of cricket or one team structure.”
Aaron Finch is open to experiment with the XI
Sruthi Ravindranath is a sub editor at ESPNcricinfo