Just four days after their competed in the ICC Cricket World Cup final, India and Australia turn their attentions to the T20 World Cup next year on Thursday when they meet in the first of five T20 matches, with the series opener coming from Visakhapatnam.
The T20 World Cup is only just over seven months away now so although these two teams probably wouldn’t want to be thinking about it so soon after a mammoth two months in the 50 over version, they really need to.
It might be said that the best thing for India to put the disappointment of that ODI World Cup final defeat behind them would be to jump straight back on the horse and get going again but they have rested the majority of their squad from that tournament. That means that this becomes a great opportunity for those wanting to force their way into the plans for the event in the Caribbean next year to do exactly that and they have five matches to do it in.
Looking at the squad that India have picked you would suggest that they have bases covered with the ball even though none of their ODI World Cup final bowling attack is being used in the tournament. The question will be whether their batting can deliver the goods. They are very much a second string and inexperienced team with the bat but there is a fair amount of IPL talent on show and if they can perform like they do in that tournament they’ll be fine.
The big issue for Australia in this opening match of the series is getting themselves up to go again so soon after climbing the mountain to win a tournament which took a serious effort. If you go back to this time last year, England were in a similar boat having just won the T20 World Cup and were flat as a pancake in an ODI series against Australia a few days later. Even without the toll of the celebrations, which deserved to be heavy and lengthy, the emotional comedown will be a real challenge.
Australia have sent half of the squad which won the ICC Cricket World Cup home but that does mean that seven of them have remained, although what state those seven are in remain to be seen. Only seven have arrived to take their place so Australia are going to have to field at least four players who were involved in the jubilant scenes and you have to wonder what they will have left in the petrol tank when you would imagine they would rather be at home recovering from the exertions of the last six weeks.
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We are going to see a lot of fringe players on show here so it is probably easier to pick out the star names who will be on show. Suryakumar Yadav has been named captain of India for this series so he will play while Axar Patel is expected to return here.
Australia will have Matthew Wade as their captain for this series and they are expected to have the likes of Steve Smith, Josh Inglis, Marcus Stoinis and Sean Abbott from their World Cup squad. Tim David will play the Glenn Maxwell role.
I actually expected India to be the favourites to win this match before I saw the prices put up so the fact that they are not that leads me to backing them. They are very much a second string side here but everyone in their team will have excelled in the Indian Premier League and while I wouldn’t be surprised if Australia end up winning the series, I just can’t believe that they are going to be up for a random T20 match in a much smaller venue than they have just won a World Cup in.
That tournament clearly took a lot out of the players, as did the celebrations. You only have to look at the pictures of the Australian squad getting off the plane and coming home from the World Cup to see how much it took out of them and motivation just has to be an issue. India might be slightly inferior man for man, and even that is questionable, but they will be motivated to put on a performance to push their claims for a place in the T20 World Cup squad as much as revenge for Sunday. India just feel overpriced to me here.
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