India hopes Yuvraj, Nehra and Harbhajan change visitors' fortunes in T20
The three-match India vs Australia Twenty20 series which kicks off in Adelaide today will be a significant one for veterans Ashish Nehra, Yuvraj Singh and Harbhajan Singh
Adelaide: The schedule of international matches these days are often dictated by ICC World events that loom on the horizon. Last year, India spent nearly five months in Australia without playing a T20 international, but with the ICC World T20 around the corner, suddenly the focus is on the shortest format of the game.
Yuvraj Singh. Pic/Getty Images
Despite the theory that Twenty20 cricket is a game for youngsters, India have decided on a contrasting approach by picking veterans like Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh and Ashish Nehra. Team Director Ravi Shastri insisted that all the aging stars had earned their place. "They've just come back from a domestic competition. Experience is not bought or sold in the market, so when you get it, use it. They are raring to go," said Shastri.
But given the way Manish Pandey and Jasprit Bumrah came through with flying colours in the last ODI at Sydney with limited experience, it seems rather strange for India to adopt this veteran policy especially given the fact that India won in the inaugural World T20 in 2007 with a youthful squad, playing with no fear and no burden.
The top order batsmen definitely have no fear but the once again, it will be the late order hitting and death bowling that all eyes will be on. MS Dhoni's constant refrain about India lacking a seam-bowling all-rounder will be lessened by Hardik Pandya. And Ravichandran Ashwin's experience should see him come back into the playing XI. Nehra and Bumrah are the death-bowling exponents and should be part of the playing XI against Australia at the Adelaide Oval today.
Lower order, a concern
The other area which India will look to improve on is the lower order hitting. In the past, Suresh Raina has been given that role, but it might be worth noting Raina has enjoyed his best T20 success at the top of the order. With Rahane still unfit, Raina is likely to bat at No 4, prompting Yuvraj Singh to play the hard-hitting role at six with Dhoni at No 5.
It is worth pointing out that in the recently concluded Big Bash, the local team, Adelaide Strikes had often played with two full-time spinners and one part-time tweaker. The Adelaide Oval pitch will be a belter. Taking the pace off the ball and tempting the batsmen to hit to the long straight boundary will be one of the tactics India need to consider.
India were not able to pounce on the crucial moments during the ODI series, but with experience on their side, they will be hoping the T20 series is a different story.