India v Australia: First T20I Preview

Batsman faces bowler in front of packed cordon

Jonhenry Wilson previews the first T20 International between India and Australia set to take place in Ranchi on Saturday 7 October. 

Buoyed by their return to the helm of the ICC's ODI rankings on the back of a convincing series win, India are presented with the chance to gain more ground in the T20I ratings against the same opposition.

Australia, meanwhile, are the lowest placed team not from the sub-continent in the T20I championship top 10 - and have plenty to prove to their judgmental contemporaries in Ranchi and beyond.

India v Australia | Saturday, 7 October | JSCA International Stadium Complex, Ranchi | 15:30

To Win Match
India 62/100 | Tie 35/1 | Australia 27/20

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Rohit Sharma was quick to acknowledge a newfound, attacking confidence among the bowlers after the four-one ODI series triumph. A lot of this inspiration came down to the collective effort of Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav - and fans can look forward to more of the leg-spinners in tandem. Their Indian Premier League experience will certainly come to the fore in the shortest form of the international game.

Ashish Nehra, remarkably, has been included in the squad. For all the talent across the country, India are still happy to accommodate a 38-year-old who has only manage to string together 26 T20I appearances in eight years. He, too, has had a career extended by the IPL, but will really need to hold his own - and more - in a seam attack spearheaded by Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah.

Shikhar Dhawan is back after missing the ODI series to be with his ill wife. Dhawan packs a serious punch - and is tipped to pretty much pick up where he left off. There should be no relenting from a man whose last seven international innings have yielded three superb centuries. He'll want, at least, a maiden T20I half-ton against Australia after failing in five attempts so far.

India boast a 100 percent T20I winning record at the JSCA International Stadium Complex in Ranchi. Dig a bit deeper - and one will know that aggregate has spanned a single fixture. February 2016's 69-run victory over Sri Lanka is their only at the venue, but spoke volumes of the tricky pitch, which saw several batsmen get good starts but fail to convert - and the hosts open the bowling with a spinner.

Both teams will have relished almost a full week between the final ODI and the first T20I, but Australia must be wary of over-preparation or being ring rusty. Six days is a long time between matches in modern-day cricket's jam-packed schedule and, in foreign conditions amid plenty of criticism on a home front, Steven Smith and company's staunch task continues.

They will be without Pat Cummins, who played all five ODIs and will rightly sit out the three T20Is. With the Ashes nearing, they need to manage his workload. Nathan Coulter-Nile and Kane Richardson have remained - and can deploy lessons heeded over the past two weeks across the next 12 days. They'll have the as yet uncapped Jason Behrendorff to mentor, too.

The return of Dan Christian, who hasn't played international cricket in over three years, and Moises Henriques will provide firepower to the all-rounder ranks, while Tim Paine replaces Matthew Wade and Peter Handscomb as wicketkeeper. Paine is certainly a stronger fit - and is a handy option at the top of the order if Aaron Finch doesn't necessarily partner David Warner.

Australia have never beaten India in a bilateral T20I series. They were whitewashed three-nil, in Australia, the last time the teams met for three successive T20Is. India, tellingly, have won nine of their 13 meetings overall. The Aussies, in fact, have never beaten India in India in this format.

Verdict: India 62/100
The Indians have won their last six T20Is against Australia and, two places higher in the ICC's rankings, should justify their overall superiority with a seventh on Saturday.

Written by Jonhenry Wilson for Hollywoodbets

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