Dr YS Rajasekhara Reddy ACA-VDCA Stadium, Visakhapatnam
February 24, Sunday; 19:00 IST
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The main picture
At times, the length of a cricket series isn’t ideal and, in the case of the two-T20I series between India and Australia, we are also forced to question the context given the World Cup is a little more than three months away.
However, the two squads are largely made up of players who are in contention to make the final fifteen for the World Cup and these two matches are added opportunities for them to either reinforce their place in the squad or prove their candidature for a role.
Dinesh Karthik has been dropped from the squad for the five-ODI series, with the chairman of the national selection committee, MSK Prasad, saying they want to give Rishabh Pant another opportunity before they make a final call on India’s fifteen for the World Cup. So, he is one of those players in the Indian squad who will be thanking his stars for these two T20Is. Umesh Yadav is another player who has fallen down the pecking order but has the opportunity, in the absence of Khaleel Ahmed, to put himself back in contention as the fourth seamer with a good performance or two in these two T20Is.
Injuries to Josh Hazlewood (back) and Mitchell Starc (torn pectoral muscle) have given Kane Richardson and Nathan Coulter-Nile places in the Australian T20I and ODI squads. With Jhye Richardson doing well in the three-ODI series against India back home in early January, Kane and Coulter-Nile may not get to feature in Australia’s World Cup squad, but given Starc’s proneness to injuries, performances on this tour could still be crucial for their hopes of making the World Cup squad.
The tour starting tomorrow is still significant given that India will be playing their final preparatory series before the World Cup and a couple of places are still up for grabs in their World Cup squad. The situation is not much different for Australia. For the fans, a Twenty20 match almost always appeals to their taste buds and with the presence of leading T20 batsmen like Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Aaron Finch in either line-up, you can expect to be entertained amid the more serious matter of players playing for spots.
Pitch conditions and weather forecast
The last Twenty20 International played here was in 2016, when India skittled out Sri Lanka for 82 and won by nine wickets. That has been the only T20I—of the two matches scheduled for this venue—to produce a result. The pitch at the Dr YS Rajasekhara Reddy ACA-VDCA Cricket Stadium is usually good for batting, though its dry nature is conducive to spin.
The forecast says that the night will be clear with a maximum temperature of 23 degree Celsius, which should be pleasant.
India vs Australia 1st T20 playing 11
Possible India playing XI: 1 Virat Kohli (c), 2 Rohit Sharma, 3 Shikhar Dhawan, 4 Rishabh Pant (wk), 5 Dinesh Karthik/KL Rahul, 6 Vijay Shankar, 7 MS Dhoni, 8 Siddarth Kaul, 9 Jasprit Bumrah, 10 Yuzvendra Chahal, 11 Umesh Yadav
Possible Australia playing XI: 1 Aaron Finch (c), 2 Alex Carey (wk), 3 D’Arcy Short, 4 Glenn Maxwell, 5 Ashton Turner, 6 Peter Handscomb, 7 Marcus Stoinis, 8 Nathan Coulter-Nile/Pat Cummins, 9 Jhye Richardson, 10 Jason Behrendorff, 11 Adam Zampa
Much of the focus will be on individual players and how they perform, particularly for players like Karthik and Umesh Yadav, who are not part of India’s ODI squad for the upcoming series.