After wrapping up their one-sided one-day series at the weekend, Australia and India will turn their attentions toward three important contests in cricket’s shortest format. Australia will host India over three Twenty20 matches over the next week, and for both teams they will act as crucial preparation for the World Twenty20 coming up in India in less than two months’ time.
It should certainly be the hosts that enter the series in better sprits. Australia had an answer for everything that was thrown at them by India through their first four 50-over contests, racking up some big totals to continue their dominant record over the Men in Blue on home soil. And, while they finally suffered a defeat in the dead rubber on Saturday, there was plenty to provide encouragement heading into the T20 format. David Warner, Steve Smith and Glenn Maxwell will all be involved in the upcoming series after enjoying fine performances with the bat over 50 overs.
However, all-rounder Maxwell will not feature in the opening T20 international at the Adelaide Oval on Tuesday, as he rests a lingering hamstring injury. In his absence, there will now be an opportunity for others to impress. Travis Head looks set to be handed his international debut in Maxwell’s place, but acting coach Michael Di Venuto has suggested that all 17 members of the squad will get their chance to stake a claim for a place at the World Twenty20.
“Obviously there is a big carrot at the end of this with the World Cup team being picked, and you can only pick 15 people so we want to give people opportunities to see what they can do,” Di Venuto, who is covering as regular coach Darren Lehman recovers from illness, said, according to Cricket Australia.
"It's also important that they don't treat it as that. They have also just got to go out and play. If they're thinking about the World Cup they are likely to go out there and get a bit of stage fright so they have just got to play the game the way they have been playing.”
Australia will have just three matches against South Africa in March after this series to prepare to try and win their first world title in the T20 format. It is a similar situation for India, which will host Sri Lanka ahead of the start of the tournament. But, as hosts, there is already extra pressure on India to get things right on the big stage.
And not a lot has gone right for India in either the one-day or T20 versions of the game in recent months. Mahendra Singh Dhoni helped shepherd his side to a morale-boosting win in Sydney on Saturday, but the extent of his waning powers as both batsman and leader continues to be a hot topic of debate.
Still, despite a 4-1 ODI series loss, there were some positives to be taken. While India’s bowlers again largely struggled in the Australian conditions, newcomer Jasprit Bumrah took two wickets on his international debut and will now be looking to build on that success in the Twenty20 internationals. And with the bat, India only failed to score more than 300 once in the series, something which Dhoni believes stands them in good stead heading into the T20s.
“A win is always good,” he said after the match in Sydney, reports The Times of India. “We have been talking about how process is important, but at the same time the reality is you want to win games. The process is important because it helps you win games.
“The last few times we were here, we lost the series, but we kept saying give the batsmen some time and they'll start doing well. Now if you see the top four-five batsmen, they have done well in this series. So this means, with the kind of talent we have, with a bit of grooming and more exposure, they can definitely do well.”
Time: Tuesday, 2:38 a.m. EST
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