It was just over a month ago the Indian team completed a hugely successful full-fledged tour to Australia. They played three T20Is, four Test matches, and three ODIs down under. However, as the World Cup looms large and the focus shifting solely to white-ball cricket, Australia are in India for a limited-overs series which will comprise of two T20Is and five ODIs.
The tour gets underway with a two-match T20I series. The last couple of times these two sides played T20Is, the series ended in a 1-1 draw (in October 2017 and November 2018). However, India have had the better of Australia in the shortest format overall. In 18 meetings, the ‘Men in Blue’ have emerged victorious 11 times and Australia have won just six games.
Hence, Australia would love to settle the scores here while India will want to continue their dominance against the Aussies in the shortest format. Hence, with the T20I series not too far away, let’s look at the five key player battles to look forward to in the series.
#5 Jhye Richardson vs Virat Kohli
Virat Kohli is undoubtedly one of the best batsmen in world cricket at the moment. The Indian skipper will be returning from a break (he was rested for the latter half of the New Zealand tour). However, he hasn’t been in the best of forms in T20Is. He’s blown hot and cold in the shortest format.
However, he guided India to a series-levelling win at the SCG against Australia in November last year. Moreover, Kohli loves batting against Australia. He has scored the most runs against an opponent in T20Is than any other player. He has scored 488 runs at an average of 61.00 against Australia.
Jhye Richardson has been very impressive in his short international career so far. He’s showed his class in all three formats and is a big threat. In fact, the Western Australian quick had Virat Kohli’s number in the ODI series. He dismissed the Indian skipper in all three games. He was excellent in that series as he picked up 6 wickets at an average of 18.67 and an economy of 3.73.
Hence, the Indian No. 3 will be eager to settle the scores against the 22-year-old fast bowler. Thus, Jhye Richardson vs Kohli is one of the battles of the series.
#4 Jason Behrendorff vs Shikhar Dhawan
Jason Behrendorff has played the bulk of his international games against India and he has been pretty impressive. In his debut international series (in 2017), he blew away the Indian top-order taking 4/21 and helping Australia break their seven-match T20 losing streak against India. He also made his ODI debut against the ‘Men in Blue’ earlier this year and picked up three wickets in two games.
However, he seems to have Shikhar Dhawan’s number. The tall Aussie quick has got the Indian opener three times in international cricket. Dhawan was dismissed by Behrendorff on both occasions in the ODI series earlier this year. However, Dhawan has had a terrific year in T20 cricket. He scored 690 runs at an average of 40.59 and a strike-rate of 147.44.
Hence, it is going to be an interesting battle. Dhawan likes to dominate while Behrendorff likes to keep things quiet. Hence, this battle in the powerplay could be a crucial one.
#3 Adam Zampa vs Hardik Pandya
Hardik Pandya has made a successful comeback to the Indian side after injury and off-field controversies. He played an excellent cameo in the fifth ODI in New Zealand but apart from that hasn’t really set the stage on fire with the bat.
Meanwhile, Adam Zampa has been in and out of the Australian limited-overs side. He might not have had a great year in ODI cricket in 2018. But in T20 cricket, he was very good. Though he didn’t pick a lot of wickets, he kept things very tight and gave nothing away. Hence, he will be key to Australia’s plans in the middle-overs once again.
The last time Australia were in India, Zampa’s battle with Pandya was a riveting one. The Baroda pace bowling all-rounder had the better of the leg-spinner on most occasions but Zampa could scalp Pandya on a couple of occasions as well. Hence, it is going to be an interesting duel.
#2 Yuzvendra Chahal vs Glenn Maxwell
Yuzvendra Chahal vs Glenn Maxwell has been one of the highlights of the player battles. Everybody knows Maxwell loves to dominate and take the attack to the opposition. He loves using his feet and also loves playing unorthodox shots against the spinners.
However, Chahal has been wary of that and has jotted out a strategy in every game he is tipped against the Australian star. More often than not, the leg-spinner has emerged out on top. In ODI cricket, when Australia were in India in 2017, Chahal dismissed Maxwell three times in a row. He has also dismissed Maxwell three times in T20Is and three times in the IPL as well.
Thus, Maxwell who has been in decent form in the Big Bash will look to settle the scores as in the absence of Kuldeep Yadav, Chahal looks to shoulder the responsibility of the spin department. Moreover, Yuzvendra Chahal is just five away from 50 T20I wickets and if he gets there he will become the second Indian spinner to reach the milestone.
#1 Jasprit Bumrah vs Aaron Finch
Aaron Finch hasn’t had the best summer this time around. He has struggled big time, especially in international cricket. He just couldn’t get going and struggled in all formats. However, he did show signs of returning to form when he got starts at the back end of the BBL.
On the other hand, Jasprit Bumrah is making a comeback after a decent break where he was rested for the ODIs in Australia and the tour to New Zealand. Hence, Bumrah will be playing white-ball cricket for the first time since November 2018.
Finch struggled in the series against India. In the six limited-overs games (3 ODIs and 3 T20Is), he was dismissed by Bhuvneshwar Kumar four times. His technique against the ball coming back in was exposed throughout the summer. Though there might not be much movement in T20 cricket, the first few overs might be a challenge for the Aussie skipper, especially against Bumrah. The Gujarat pacer predominantly brings the ball back into the right-hander.
Hence, Bumrah vs Finch early in the innings will be another interesting battle.