IND v AUS 2020, 1st T20I: 3 player battles to watch out for

India takes on Australia in the first T20I at Canberra on Friday. Pic: ICC/Twitter

Virat Kohli

Josh Hazlewood

Glenn Maxwell. Pic: ICC/Twitter

Yuzvendra Chahal

Hardik Pandya. Pic: ICC/Twitter

Adam Zampa. Pic: ICC/Twitter

With the ODI series lost, Team India will be keen to put up a better show in the three-match T20I series against Australia. The first of the three T20I games will be played at Canberra on Friday, December 4, at the venue where India registered their first win of the tour.

The Indian bowling unit disappointed in the ODIs, and will have to lift their game if they want to compete in the T20I series. The batting unit did better, with Team India crossing 300 in all three one-dayers, something they would be pleased about.

Looking at the head-to-head T20I record of the two teams, India and Australia have faced each other in 20 games. Team India has won 11 of those and Australia have won eight, with one match producing no result. Impressively, five of India’s 11 wins have been registered Down Under.

As India and Australia prepare to resume their T20I rivalry, here are three-player battles to watch out for in the first match.

Indian captain Virat Kohli had a reasonable ODI series, crossing the half-century mark in two of the three matches. However, there was one common link in all three games. He was dismissed by Aussie medium pacer Josh Hazlewood on all occasions.

After Kohli fell to Hazlewood in the first two games, the accurate medium-pacer had the Indian captain caught in the corridor of uncertainty in the final match.

Leg-spinner Adam Zampa, who has dismissed Kohli seven times in 21 matches, had joked after the third one-dayer that Hazlewood can take over the mantle of Kohli’s conqueror from him.

On a serious note, Kohli will be keen to stand up and make a serious impact in the first T20I, to set the tone for the matches to follow. Undoubtedly, Hazlewood will have the psychological advantage when the teams come face-to-face at Canberra in the first T20I.

Kohli, though, is a legend of the game and will be confident of tackling this latest challenge, just like many others thrown at him in the past.

With a stupendous ODI series behind him, Australia’s swashbuckling batsman Glenn Maxwell will be raring to take on India in the T20Is.

Maxwell smashed 167 runs from 86 balls in the one-dayers, scoring at a strike rate of 194.18. With the series in the bag, he almost took Australia to victory in the final ODI with some colossal hitting, before Jasprit Bumrah scalped his wicket.

Maxwell has used the switch-hit to great effect against Indian spinners even as question marks remain over the fairness of the stroke’s usage, at least as far as bowlers are concerned.

The Big Show’s performance against India is a continuation of the brilliant form he displayed in the ODIs against England with scores of 77 and 108. His lacklustre run in IPL 2020 was seemingly just an aberration.

Although Yuzvendra Chahal was rested for the final one-dayer against Australia at Canberra, he should be back in the playing eleven for the first T20I, as he remains India’s number one spinner in the limited-overs format.

Chahal had a forgettable ODI series with figures of 1 for 89 and 0 for 71 in the two games that he featured in. The leg-spinner will need to lift his game for India will need his services in the T20Is, particularly against someone like Maxwell.

With the kind of form that he is in, the Aussie middle-order batsman will look to take on Chahal from the word go. The ball will spin away from Maxwell, while Chahal also has the variations to trouble him.

The big question though is whether the battered leg-spinner still has the confidence to tackle the Maxwell challenge.

With two players on the top of their game, this will be one big clash to watch out for. Hardik Pandya was India’s standout performer in the ODIs with 210 runs in three matches at a strike rate of 114.75. Twice in the series, he reached the 90s, narrowly missing out on a maiden one-day hundred.

On the other hand, Zampa was the leading wicket-taker in the ODI series with seven wickets at a strike rate of 25.7. The leg-spinner has managed to fox several Indian batsmen with his guile, including a well-set Pandya in the first match.

When Pandya was chosen for the Australia series as a specialist batsman, doubts were raised over his ability to occupy one of the middle-order spots as he wouldn’t be able to bowl. However, the 27-year-old has shut all Doubting Thomases with two mature knocks.

In Zampa, Pandya finds an equal, for the bowler is also high on confidence and has outclassed some of the best in the game — Kohli included — in recent times. A mouth-watering prospect for the T20Is.

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