A very quick change of format and into one where there is a little more urgency to get things right ahead of next year’s T20 World Cup. As per the ICC rankings, this series pits second against third, so it has the makings of a good contest on surfaces that are likely to favour the bat.
Australia were the top-ranked side earlier this year but lost that tag during the 2-1 series defeat in England: last summer they won five out of their six matches against Sri Lanka and Pakistan, peaking nicely for the home World Cup that was ultimately postponed due to the pandemic.
In this series they are already without David Warner and Pat Cummins while Marnus Stoinis is recovering from a side strain, Mitchell Starc missed the last ODI with a back niggle and Ashton Agar appeared to pick up a calf strain. Mitchell Marsh is also missing from the side that finished the series in England, so there will need to be some new allrounders in the middle order.
India’s players (as with a number of the Australians) are coming off the IPL, albeit with a gap of a few weeks, so their T20 games should be in decent order. They could feature a couple of players who were not part of the one-day series and there will be eyes on what combination they go with at the top of the order. With the first of the Test warm-up matches overlapping with the second two matches, it could be some players are released for that contest.
In the spotlight
Glenn Maxwell is in a bit of form. The one-day series brought 167 runs at a strike rate of 194.18, which followed on from his successful series in England. Between that was a very lean IPL where he did not manage a single six. The interesting part about this series will be how Australia use him in the batting order given how well he has struck the ball in the one-dayers. There could be a temptation to give him as much time as possible, but he also has the ability to play a role few others can in the latter overs. Don’t be surprised to see him bowling in the powerplay, either.
Jasprit Bumrah looked as though he was getting his mojo back in the third ODI after a slow start to the tour. He claimed the decisive wicket when he speared one into the base of Maxwell’s stumps and, importantly, was playing with a smile on his face again after letting some frustrations become clear in Sydney. His IPL form was outstanding – 27 wickets with an economy of 6.73 – but it remains to be seen if he plays this whole series before focusing on Test cricket.
When Warner was rested for the last T20I against England, Wade took his place so that could be the route again this time, although D’Arcy Short has been added to the squad. The absence of Mitchell Marsh and probably Stoinis opens slots in the middle order. Alex Carey was dropped for the last match against England but could regain his spot. The bowling could be a range of combinations depending on the status of various niggles.
Australia (possible) 1 Aaron Finch (capt), 2 Matthew Wade, 3 Steven Smith, 4 Glenn Maxwell, 5 Moises Henriques, 6 Alex Carey (wk), 7 Ashton Agar, 8 Sean Abbott, 9 AJ Tye/Mitchell Starc, 10 Adam Zampa, 11 Josh Hazlewood