Virat Kohli’s Indian side has endured a roller-coaster ride in 2018. They lost the Test series 1-2 to South Africa but won the ODIs and Twenty20 International series 5-1 and 2-1 respectively. In England, they won the Twenty20s 2-1 but lost the ODIs and Tests 1-2 and 1-4. The nature of the Test series defeat has put immense pressure on Kohli’s side but they have a golden chance of a turnaround when it comes to their overseas woes. On the other hand, Australia are plagued by turmoil off the field due to the ongoing repercussions of the ball-tampering scandal while on the field, they have lost heavily in all formats. It is in this backdrop that India’s two-month long tour of Australia will begin, starting from the first Twenty20 International in Brisbane.
India will have happy memories in Twenty20 Internationals in Australia. In the 2016 series, they became the first side to whitewash Australia in any format Down Under. Kohli averaged 199 in that series with three fifties and with the Indian skipper in sublime form, things look ominous for Australia. Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar have been the key Twenty20 bowlers for India. In Australian conditions, the duo could be lethal. He has good back-up in left-arm pacer Khaleel Ahmed, who impressed in the series against West Indies and Yuzvendra Chahal. Krunal Pandya is a good option as a bowling all-rounder.
In the batting, Kohli and Rohit Sharma are more than enough to win games single-handedly. If Rishabh Pant shows the kind of maturity like he did in the Chennai game against the West Indies, he will be an asset to the middle order.
For Australia, anything that can go wrong has gone wrong in 2018. Steve Smith and David Warner’s bans will remain till March 2019. On the field, be it in Tests, ODIs or T20Is, the team has struggled. Australia did not win a single game against Pakistan in their recently-concluded tour of the UAE while against South Africa, they lost the ODIs and T20Is. Having won just two ODIs, one Test and no T20Is in the whole year, Australia face a massive task if they have to turn their fortunes around.
However, skipper Aaron Finch stated the Twenty20 format is the best chance Australia has in toppling India. “Although we lost to Pakistan in the UAE, we are a very good T20 side. I think we played some good cricket in Zimbabwe and before that in the tri-series against New Zealand and England last year. We are very confident in this format. India has been in great form in all formats over a long time now. But it is going to be a great opportunity for us to come out, play aggressively and express ourselves. We can take the game on and really try to take it to India,” Finch said.
Kohli, who is determined to change India’s overseas rut, reiterated that mistakes committed on previous tours will not be repeated. “Our mistakes in England were very radical. The quality of cricket was very high but our mistakes were as radical and that's why we lost the games. At times, we have the ability to compete with the other team at par and in Test cricket. Whichever team makes lesser mistakes wins the game, that's the general rule,” Kohli said.
Australia: D Arcy Short, Aaron Finch(c), Chris Lynn, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Ben McDermott, Alex Carey(w), Nathan Coulter-Nile, Andrew Tye, Jason Behrendorff, Billy Stanlake, Ashton Agar, Adam Zampa
India: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli(c), Lokesh Rahul, Rishabh Pant(w), Dinesh Karthik, Krunal Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, K Khaleel Ahmed, Yuzvendra Chahal