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New format, new teams, a bit more India vs Australia

replay of , Afghanistan vs Sri Lanka, Group B, Asia Cup 2022, Dubai, August 27, 2022
New format, new teams, a bit more India vs Australia


Big picture: More India vs Australia coming your way

Nothing exemplifies the problem with the international cricket schedule quite like this T20I series between India and Australia. To start a five-match series four days after an ODI World Cup final is absurd in itself, although there is precedent as recently as 12 months ago with England forced to front up for a three-match ODI series against Australia four days after their T20 World Cup triumph.

On top of that, haven’t these two sides played against each other enough this year? They played a four-Test series in India in February and March, followed by a three-match ODI series. They played in the World Test Championship final in June straight after the IPL. They then played a second three-match ODI series in India in September just two weeks out from the ODI World Cup, where they met at the start and the end of the tournament. Not to mention the two sides played a three-match T20I series in India in September last year. Australia’s involvement in the Ashes series and India’s Asia Cup and Asia Games adventures in between times only add to the completely nonsensical scheduling of this series.

But, it’s on, and we’ll watch it. India have quite rightly rested nearly all of their World Cup squad, with the exception of Suryakumar Yadav who will lead the side, Ishan Kishan and Prasidh Krishna, although Kishan played just two games in the World Cup and Prasidh none. Shreyas Iyer will return for the last two games of the series after being rested for the first three while coach Rahul Dravid is also missing the series with VVS Laxman taking charge after coaching the victorious Asain Games team.

Australia have kept more of their World Cup squad in India with seven players remaining plus Tanveer Sangha who has been a travelling reserve for the entire tournament. They only have added seven new faces including Matthew Wade who will captain the side, which means at least four of those who are still celebrating Sunday’s win will have to sober up enough to take the field. David Warner was originally picked to play in the series but made a late decision to withdraw and has been replaced by Aaron Hardie. Spencer Johnson has also been withdrawn from the original squad due to injury with Kane Richardson replacing him. Pat Cummins, the ODI captain, and Mitch Marsh, the stand-in T20 captain for the last series Australia played in South Africa, have flown home alongside Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc and Cameron Green. Australia’s coach Andrew McDonald has also flown home to Australia with assistant coach Andre Borovec taking charge for the first time.

Whilst there are plenty of reasons not to play this series, it should be noted that the next T20 World Cup is just over six months away. For both sides, these five matches are part of only 11 scheduled T20Is before that World Cup.

It should be noted too, that for as meaningless as Australia’s three-match ODI series was against England last year in days after the T20 World Cup, it did provide the opportunity for Travis Head to nail his spot as Australia’s ODI World Cup opener and gave Cummins the chance to captain in ODIs for the first time. With that in mind, there are opportunities here for players on both sides to bed down roles for the T20 World Cup next year.

Form guide

India WWWWL (last five completed T20Is, most recent first)
Australia WWWWW

In the spotlight: Kishan and Wade

This is a golden chance for Ishan Kishan to bed down the role of wicketkeeper ahead of the next World Cup. Kishan had the role for the first eight of India’s T20Is this year but lost his place after just two games in the five-match series against West Indies in the Caribbean and the United States in August and was replaced by Sanju Samson. There was no room for Samson in this squad and Jitesh Sharma has been named as the second wicketkeeper. With Yashasvi Jaiswal and Ruturaj Gaikwad both part of the squad, Kishan could be locked in a three-way battle for the opening spot. Only twice in his 29-match T20I career has Kishan batted outside the opening spot – at No. 3 in March 2021 and at No. 6 in July 2021.

This looms as a really interesting series for Matthew Wade. The fact that he has been named as captain in the absence of Cummins and Marsh suggests he is still very highly regarded by the Australian selectors but even he admitted he is unsure whether he will be the first-choice wicketkeeper at next year’s T20 World Cup. Josh Inglis usurped Alex Carey in the ODI World Cup side and despite what appear as modest returns, he showed his capabilities in big moments and is one of Australia’s best players of spin bowling in the middle overs in both white-ball formats. But the Marcus Stoinis-Tim David-Wade axis at Nos. 5-7 have actually been the most reliable aspect of Australia’s T20 batting in the last two years. There would need to be a good reason to break the band up for the T20 World Cup, given their experience in big moments and their power on slow pitches. Wade can take the discussion completely off the table if he bats, keeps and leads well in this series.

Team news

Guessing the two XIs would be a fun trivia game for any fans ahead of this series. India’s XI is a complete mystery, as they have played so many different combinations in recent times; but it would seem likely that Suryakumar will slot in at No.3 and Ishan Kishan will likely keep, but where he bats remains a mystery. Axar Patel should be a lock to return.

India (probable): 1 Ishan Kishan (wk), 2 Ruturaj Gaikwad, 3 Suryakumar Yadav (capt), 4 Tilak Varma, 5 Shivam Dube, 6 Rinku Singh, 7 Axar Patel/Washington Sundar, 8 Ravi Bishnoi, 9 Arshdeep Singh, 10 Prasidh Krishna/Avesh Khan, 11 Mukesh Kumar

Australia are purely looking for sober cricketers. Steven Smith could well play as he was set to open in the T20I series against South Africa before he was ruled out with a wrist injury. Marcus Stoinis and Sean Abbott should play given they both missed the World Cup semi and final and Tanveer Sangha will probably get a chance to allow Zampa to relax.

Australia (probable): 1 Steven Smith, 2 Matthew Short, 3 Aaron Hardie, 4 Josh Inglis, 5 Marcus Stoinis, 6 Tim David, 7 Matthew Wade (capt, wk), 8 Sean Abbott, 9 Nathan Ellis, 10 Jason Behrendorff, 11 Tanveer Sangha

Pitch and conditions

It will be humid and there is a chance of a couple of showers in the afternoon. It was similar weather when these two sides met in an ODI at the same venue in March and Australia quicks help set up a 10-wicket win. Australia also won a low-scoring T20I at the same venue in 2019. Ball has tended to dominate bat in the three T20Is played at the ground.

Stats and trivia

  • Australia have played five internationals at the two grounds in Visakhapatnam including four ODIs and one T20I and have only lost once.
  • Suryakumar Yadav will become the ninth India T20I captain since the start of 2021 and the fourth this year after Hardik Pandya, Jasprit Bumrah and Ruturaj Gaikwad.
  • Matthew Wade has captained Australia’s T20I side in seven matches previously including against India in 2020. He also led Australia in their final match of the 2022 World Cup when Aaron Finch was injured.

Quotes

“Keeping the T20 World Cup in mind, the games we are going to play till then are very important. My message to them [younger players] is very clear: be fearless and do whatever it takes to help the team. And they have been doing that in the IPL; they have played a lot domestic cricket as well recently. So they are in a good nick, which I have heard from our support staff.”
India’s stand-in captain Suryakumar Yadav on the importance of this series

“Traditionally, the pitches are very, very good for batting over here. In the West Indies, they tend to slow up and take a little bit of spin. So any opportunity we get on a slowish wicket with a bit of spin is an opportunity for someone to put their hand up and show what they can do.”
Interim Australia captain Matthew Wade on the conditions in Visakhapatnam

Alex Malcolm is an Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo



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