After a one-sided Test series, the India-Windies One Day series is proving to be a close battle. Although the ODI series will be followed by a 3-match T20 series most of the Indian fans have started thinking about the big Australia tour starting in 3 weeks time.
In India’s last Australia tour in 2016, Indians only played the limited over formats. Although they lost the ODI series 1-4, in T20s they whitewashed Australia for the first time in Australia with a 3-0 win.
This time the tour will start with T20s with three T20 Internationals scheduled on 21st, 23rd and 25th November in Brisbane, Melbourne, and Sydney respectively. After a 10 days break the Border Gavaskar Trophy will commence from 6th December with the first test being played at Adelaide followed by second test match at Perth from 13th. Last two test matches will be the traditional Boxing-day and New Year tests at Melbourne and Sydney. The final leg of the tour will include 3 ODIs in 12th, 15th, and 18th January.
The Indian selectors have already announced the squads for the T20 and Test series and it includes quite a few surprises.
The T20 squad was announced for combined Windies and Australia tour and the biggest one is the removal of MS Dhoni from India’s T20 squad. This is the first time MS Dhoni has been dropped from an Indian squad in his 14 years long career. Instead of Dhoni, the selectors have opted for both Rishabh Pant and Dinesh Karthik, a move described to pick the backup options behind the stumps.
Virat Kohli has opted to play the T20s in Australia and batting gives a familiar look with Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, and KL Rahul as Top order options. For the middle order, Shreyas Iyer and Manish Pandey will shoulder the responsibility along with the wicketkeepers.
Hardik Pandya is still not fit and in his absence, the Allrounder duties are handed to his elder brother Krunal Pandya who is expected to make his debut against the Windies. Krunal is also part of the Four member Spin attack for Australia which includes Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, and Washington Sundar. Bumrah will lead the pack of fast bowlers with support from Bhubaneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav and impressive new boy Khaleel Ahmed.
The 18 members Indian Test squad has a more stable look. Based on his experience Murali Vijay earned a call-up to support KL Rahul and the amazing Prithvi Shaw as the third opener option. Shikhar Dhawan was not so lucky neither is Mayank Agarwal, who despite the bucketful of runs in domestic cricket could not make the cut. With the regular troika of Kohli, Pujara, and Rahane in the middle order, the backup choices are Hanuma Vihari and Rohit Sharma who also returns in the squad after missing the England tour due to his horrible show in South Africa at the beginning of the year. One should feel bad for Karun Nair who remained out of the squad after being part of the touring Indian side in England without playing a single game. Maybe Vihari’s off-spin bowling played a role in selectors going for him.
As Wriddhiman Saha’s long injury lay-off continues, Parthiv Patel earns another call-up as back up to Rishabh Pant and can also be another potential option in the top. Bowling looks more settled with all the regulars present in both Pace and Spin department. Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, and Kuldeep Yadav will provide spin options of different variety. Jasprit Bumrah and Ishant Sharma will lead the seam bowling options with support from Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami, and Bhubaneshwar.
Australia just finished a winless series against Pakistan and with Steve Smith and David Warner still out due to the ball-tampering bans it will be a great opportunity for India to prove their supremacy in all formats and get their first Test series to win in Australian soil.