The Big Picture
So, after touring Down Under for a full-fledged series that spanned for around three months, it is now the turn for the Men in Blue to play hosts to Australia in what is effectively a dress rehearsal for the hosts' ahead of the 50-over World Cup.
Context-wise, this might just be another baseless T20I trophy, especially in a World Cup year, but as Virat Kohli said in the pre-match conference, the series will serve as an opportunity for both sides' to fine-tune the chinks in their armor before the 5-match ODI series gets underway.
India's squad is bolstered by the addition of skipper Virat Kohli and Jasprit Bumrah, both of whom were rested from the recently concluded series against New Zealand, which the Men in Blue lost 1-2, although Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Kuldeep Yadav have been rested in a bid to try out the likes of Sid Kaul, Umesh Yadav or even Mayank Markande. The injury of Hardik Pandya shifts the spotlight on Vijay Shankar, who, as MSK Prasad admitted has "changed the dynamics" courtesy some gritty performances in New Zealand.
The Australians, on the other hand, are coming off a Big Bash season and will hope to use these two T20Is to get back into the groove. With a plethora of spots up for grabs in the ODI set-up, opportunity galore for the likes of D'Archy Short [replacement for Shaun Marsh in T20Is] to stake his claim back into the 50-over side after enduring a stellar BBL season where he ended up as the leading run-scorer.
With the squad more-or-less same for both the T20Is and ODIs, the two matches at Vizag and Bengaluru should give the visitors' ideal time to settle into the rhythm before the 5-match series gets underway.
Interestingly, the last two T20I series between these two sides' have ended with a 1-1 scoreline with rain playing spoilsport, and with Australia having never won a T20I series in India and the hosts' coming off a rare bilateral series defeat [1-2 vs New Zealand], it should give some context to what effectively is a dress-rehearsal to the impending One-day series.
Venue:- Dr.Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy ACA-VDCA Cricket Stadium, Visakhapatnam
Match Timing:- Sunday, February 24th, 2019, 07:00 PM IST
As you would expect for a T20I game, a flat deck is expected to greet both sides with plenty of runs in it. If you go by the record at the venue; in the sole T20I played at Vizag, Ravi Ashwin registered figures of 4-8 to bowl Sri Lanka out for 82; indicating some help for the spinners.
Do you know?
- Jasprit Bumrah  needs two more wickets to become the second Indian bowler to complete 50 T20I scalps.
- Yuzvendra Chahal is five wickets away from 50 T20I dismissals.
- Rohit Sharma  needs two sixes to become the leading six-hitter in T20I cricket; a record jointly held by Chris Gayle and Martin Guptill .
- 134.00- Virat Kohli's average in International matches at Vizag. His scores at the venue read:- 118, 117, 99, 65, 167, 81 & 158 not out.
- Kohli enjoys batting against the Aussies. The Indian captain has racked up 488 runs in 14 matches; the most by any batsman against any other opposition.
- Australia is yet to win a T20I series in India.
Team News & Playing 11
Will India strengthen their batting by playing the all-rounders in Vijay Shankar and Krunalo Pandya or will they go with the wrist-spin of Mayank Markande and death-bowling option in Sid Kaul?
There will also be a toss-up between KL Rahul and Dinesh Karthik. To be fair, Karthik has been magnificent in his role of a finisher but with KL Rahul getting the nod ahead of him in the ODIs, India might look to give the Karnataka batsman game-time ahead of the 5-match rubber.
Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli [c], KL Rahul/Dinesh Karthik, Rishabh Pant, MS Dhoni [wk], Vijay Shankar, Krunal Pandya, Yuzvendra Chahal, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah
As Aaron Finch admitted in the pre-match presser, plenty of questions hover around the likely opener that will partner him at the top of the order. Will it be D'Arcy Short? Usman Khwaja? or Alex Carey?
Aaron Finch(c), Jhye Richardson, Kane Richardson, Adam Zampa, Nathan Lyon, Jason Behrendorff, Usman Khawaja, Ashton Turner, Alex Carey [wk], D Arcy Short, Peter Handscomb, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Pat Cummins, Nathan Coulter-Nile