India-Australia season starts with a lone T20 at Rajkot
Comeback man Yuvraj Singh will be the cynosure of all eyes as a full-strength India lock horns with a relatively inexperienced Australian side in the one-off Twenty20 game here on Thursday, aiming to gain early momentum ahead of the upcoming seven-match ODI series.
The elements, though, could play spoilsport. The state has been experiencing heavy downpour and the Met department has forecast more rains. The hosts start as favourites against the visitors led by Tasmanian George Bailey.
After a two-month break from international cricket, skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni will look to re-start his stint with a win.
However, the focus will be primarily on Yuvraj, who would be eager to prove a point after being recalled to the squad following a string of good scores. Apart from his explosive batting, Yuvraj’s left-arm spin will also be handy in the shortest form of the game.
Openers Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma have been in good form with fluent performances, while left-handed Suresh Raina has also been in good touch. Then there is the strong middle-order consisting of Virat Kohli, Yuvraj and Dhoni.
The Indian pace attack appears balanced with Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ishant Sharma bowling well in tandem, and the duo would look to make early inroads. Leg spinner Amit Mishra, Ravindra Jadeja and off spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, along with part-timers Raina, Rohit and Yuvraj, give the side plenty of slow bowling options.
Australia, on the other hand, would be equally eager to start their campaign on a winning note.
Known for their fighting qualities, the underdogs cannot be taken lightly as most of the players have played in IPL and have a fair understanding of the Indian conditions.
The Australian batting, however, looks a little frail. Senior pro Watson is expected to play an important role with his skills with both bat and ball, while wicketkeeper-batsman Brad Haddin is one of the more experienced players in the side.
Young left-arm pacer James Faulkner and all-rounder Glenn Maxwell would bring in the experience of having played in CLT20.
The bowling attack looks good with Mitchell Johnson, Coulter-Nile, Moises Henriques, Clint McKay shouldering the responsibility.PTI