An Australia side under new leadership take on a much-changed Indian team still reeling from their 4-0 Test whitewash in two T20 internationals, starting with Wednesday morning’s clash at Stadium Australia.
Australia (8/13 at Totesport
) start as favourites under new T20 skipper George Bailey who has conceded he will only win respect if he scores runs himself, regardless of how the new-look side performs against India (5/4).
Bailey (Australia 10/11 – Who Will Win the Toss, India 10/11 at Totesport
) impressed the Australian selectors with his captaincy of the A side against New Zealand in November.
The Tasmanian skipper, who played under axed ex-Aussie captain Cameron White for the Melbourne Stars in the domestic Big Bash competition, scored only 114 runs at an average of 19 this year and knows he must do better to retain his job on the international stage (Bailey 8/1 – Top Australia Batsman).
He said: “I certainly would have liked a few more runs in the Big Bash but since Twenty20 started being played I certainly think my record stands up against anyone, particularly for someone who has batted for the majority in that middle order.”
In-form opener David Warner (5/2) has been named as Bailey’s vice-captain, while Australian Test vice-captain Shane Watson was not considered for the two games against India due to his ongoing injury problems.
Warner, David Hussey (9/2) and the out-of-form Shaun Marsh (7/2) will compete with domestic veteran Travis Birt (4/1), Aaron Finch (4/1) and wicketkeeper batsman Matthew Wade (10/1) for slots in the batting line up.
All-rounders Dan Christian (8/1) and Mitchell Marsh (7/1) will be an asset to the side, while the bowling will be spearheaded by Brett Lee and Ryan Harris.
Australia’s selectors also announced the surprise recall of the 40-year-old spinner Brad Hogg, who made a T20 comeback this summer and has been the stand-out slow bowler in the Big Bash League.
India also have a fresh look about them after the humiliating 4-0 Test whitewash, with several changes to the squad for the limited-overs leg of the tour.
Out go Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Pragyan Ojha, Wriddhiman Saha, Ishant Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane, with Suresh Raina, Parthiv Patel, Manoj Tiwary, Ravindra Jadeja, Irfan Pathan, Rahul Sharma and Praveen Kumar bolstering the tourists’ ranks.
Virender Sehwag (3/1 – Top India Batsman at Totesport
) and Gautam Gambhir (7/2) will open the batting with talented youngsters Virat Kohli (7/2), Rohit Sharma (9/2) and Raina (6/1) keen to make names for themselves in the new middle order.
Raina, who led the limited-overs side in the West Indies last year, hands back the captaincy to MS Dhoni, but has promised a better performance from the side.
“Definitely,” he said. “The one-dayers and Twenty20 games will go differently to how the Tests went. Hopefully we will give you positive results. In the World Cup we beat Australia in the quarter-final and hopefully we will do well against Australia again.”
India and Australia have played four T20 matches so far with honours even at two wins apiece. India won the first two meetings at Durban and Mumbai in 2007 while Australia claimed the clash at Melbourne in 2008 and the one during the World T20 2010 in Barbados.
India won their last T20 clash against the West Indies after back-to-back defats to England in August last year while Australia have won two of their last three matches in this form of the game.
The weather in Sydney is set to be fair and with the drop-in Stadium Australia pitch expected to display similar characteristsics to the Sydney Cricket Ground wicket, a high-scoring affair could be on the cards (Australia 8/11 at Totesport
– Highest 1st 6 Over score, India Evens).