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This might be the first case in cricketing history when a touring Indian team to Australia is considered as favourites while the Australian team starts as underdogs. The tour kicks off with the T20I series and this will definitely help the Indians acclimatise to the conditions in Australia for the much-awaited Test series. India holds the upper hand when it comes to the shortest format of the game, getting the better of Australians on 10 occasions out of the 15 games played. The last time India toured Australia, they ended up whitewashing the Australians in the 3-match T20I series.
The Gabba will be hosting a T20I after a gap of 5 years and it has been a happy hunting ground for the batsmen in the past. The pitch is fast, bouncy and has a good carry to the keeper. The pitches in Australia are mostly flat with minimum seam movement and the ball comes on the bat nicely making it easier for the batsmen. Bounce is a factor that might have troubled Indians in the past as they were not used to such bouncy pitches but this new-age Indian team has improved leaps and bounds in tackling the bumpers with players like Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma showing a counter-attacking approach to negate the short stuff.
The Indian team has been a force to reckon with in the limited over format while the Australians haven't delivered a noteworthy performance in the T20s off late. With the departure of Warner and Smith, Australia has lost the backbone of their batting department and their bowling appears toothless with just a couple of names in the bowling line up to rely on. Andrew Tye has been consistent and the return of Nathan Coulter Nile after an injury has helped their case to some extent.
The Indian team looks a very settled side and they proved how clinical they can get in the series against Windies. The Indian side only gets better with the inclusion of their skipper in the T20 side making the already strong batting line up look even more daunting. Rohit Sharma has been firing in the shorter formats giving India good starts along with Dhawan and Kohli and Rahul provide the much-needed stability to the middle order. Dinesh Karthik has been doing a fine job in the limited opportunities he's got and India's only concern will be in the finishing stages where they haven't been able to press the accelerator and finish on a high.
In the absence of Hardik Pandya, the senior Pandya, Krunal looks all set to shoulder the responsibilities of the all-rounder in the team. Keeping in mind the conditions in Australia, one out of Kuldeep and Chahal is likely to miss the first game making way for an extra seamer, a combination which India opted for in the series against Windies. Bumrah, Bhuvi, and Khaleel look certain starters in the first game.
However, there will be no room for complacency given how this Kohli led India has approached a game in the recent past. They know that Australia in Australia will always be a tough nut to crack as they have some experienced campaigners who travel around the world playing T20s. Their skipper, Aaron Finch will be a threat and we have seen how devastating can Chris Lynn and D Arcy Short be. Not to forget Maxwell, who's going through a lean patch but has the potential to be a match-winner on any given day.
Even though India looks a much stronger side on paper, we cannot count out the Australians and expect a great contest when these two teams come against each other.
Catch all the action from the 1st of the three T20Is at the Gabba in Brisbane, Wednesday, 21st November, 1:20 PM IST, 5:50 PM local.