1st T20I: Virat Kohli and Co aim to grab it at the Gabba
Team India will aim to start Australia tour on a positive note with nothing less than a win in the first T20I today at Brisbane
The hustle and bustle around the practice nets at the Gabba over the past two days is enough to know that the Indian cricket team are in town. More than 100 fans gathered in a small guarded area behind the nets to catch a glimpse of the Indian players as they went about their business yesterday. The scene of fans scampering for photos with Indian cricketers might be normal, but for a cricket-loving country like Australia that has had its image tarnished with the ball tampering saga, the excitement and the buzz around the T20 series against India is exactly what is needed.
The ODI series against South Africa failed to attract spectators, but there will be no such problem today as a crowd of over 30,000 is expected to pack the Gabba for the first T20I match. India will be hoping to start the tour on the right note and are expected to play their best XI. The long square boundaries and Australia's poor record against wrist spin might prompt the team bosses to play both Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal.
On the eve of the match, the Indian think tank wanted to know the exact dimensions of the ground, so they could decide which end to bowl their spinners from. There will also be plenty of attention on Rishabh Pant. The youngster has managed to push MS Dhoni out of the team and the onus will be on him to deliver in the front of the wicket and behind it. Pant has spent a considerable amount of time practising against the short ball and there is no doubt the Australian bowlers will test him on a pitch that is expected to be fast and bouncy.
India will have fond memories of the 2016 T20 series Down Under where they whitewashed the Australians 3-0. Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, and Virat Kohli were sensational in that series and if Australia are to have success this time around, they will need to make early inroads. Australia, meanwhile, will be hoping that their T20 specialists in D'Arcy Short, Andrew Tye, Ben McDermott and Chris Lynn can replicate their stunning Big Bash form over the past two seasons in the international arena. One man the Indians cannot take lightly is Jason Behrendorff. The left-arm pacer sliced through the Indian top-order the last time these two teams met in a T20 international. Behrendorff finished with 4-21 as Australia defeated India by eight wickets.
Finch hopeful of upset
Meanwhile, skipper Aaron Finch yesterday reckoned the T20 Internationals will be Australia's best chance to challenge an upbeat India in the absence of leading batsmen Steve Smith and David Warner, PTI reported. Finch said that the shortest format allows the hosts to be aggressive and more competitive against a strong Indian side. "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," Finch said. "India have 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."
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