After a hugely successful IPL 2020 season, it’s back to national duty for the Indian Cricket Team. The Men in Blue are currently sweating it out in the nets ahead of the two-month showdown against hosts Australia.
The tour will kickoff with the three-match One-day International series from November 27, post which the caravan will move to the T20I series in Canberra from December 04.
Both sides have made quite a few interesting selections to their respective squads and as both teams build-up for the all-important ICC T20 World Cup in 2021, here’s a look at five players to watch out for in the T20I series-
Post the retirement of the likes of Zaheer Khan, Irfan Pathan, RP Singh, and Ashish Nehra, the Indian Cricket Team has grappled with the absence of a quality left-arm pacer.
The Men in Blue in the past few years have tried the likes of Barinder Sran and Khaleel Ahmed with little success. That search seems to have ended with the emergence of T Natarajan.
The left-arm pacer from Tamil Nadu turned heads due to his ability to nail yorkers at will throughout the 2020 edition of the cash-rich league.
Natarajan bowled as many as 64 yokers- the most by any bowler- in the season and in the process he proceeded to dismantle some of the best batsmen in the world, none better than AB de Villiers.
— CricketMAN2 (@man4_cricket) November 8, 2020
Natarajan earned a call-up to the Indian team after spinner Varun Chakravarthy was ruled out due to injury and it will interesting to see how the talented pacer fares on the pacy tracks Down Under.
Will the real Glenn Maxwell step up, please? This is something every Australian cricket fan will be hoping for in the upcoming T20I series against India.
It was a well-established fact even before IPL 2020 that Maxwell in T20I cricket and Maxwell in IPL are two different individuals.
After all the swashbuckler had managed to cross the 300-run-mark in only one season post his exploits in 2014. But, not even Maxwell’s most stringent critics would have imagined the kind of struggle the enigmatic all-rounder endured in the recent edition of the IPL. Let alone the runs- 108 in 13 matches at 15.42-Maxwell wasn’t even able to hit a single six off the 106 deliveries that he faced.
That said, Glenn Maxwell is a different beast when it comes to international T20 cricket. Since the start of 2019, Maxwell has smashed 264 runs in just six innings at an average of 52.80 and a strike-rate of 168.15 including two 50s and a three-figure score, which incidentally came in the last T20I series that Australia played against India.
His recent run notwithstanding, Team India will still be wary of what the ‘Big Show” can bring to the table. And, that will be interesting to see how he responds to recent adversities.
Shreyas Iyer became the first Delhi Capitals skipper to lead his team to the finals of the Indian Premier League. With the bat too, despite a slump at the backend, Iyer had a brilliant season as he compiled a total of 519 runs at an average of 34.60.
Shreyas played a captain’s knock in the final as he shepherded DC’s fledgling ship with a compiled fifty. But, here comes a rider. And, it’s something that he has always come under the scanner for. Yep, his STRIKE-RATE!
Shreyas scored his runs at a strike-rate of 123.27, and in the final also, he was unable to switch his gears in the final few overs. His strike-rate in international T20s after 21 matches is 129.5, something he would like to improve on, considering the fact he bats at the all-important 4th spot in India’s batting order.
This will be Shreyas Iyer’s first tour of Australia and given his perennial weakness against fast bowlers as compared to spinners, the likes of Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, and Josh Hazlewood will surely test him with pace and bounce, and it will be interesting to see how the talented young batsmen counter the challenge.
Marcus Stoinis was probably the biggest positive for Australia from the recently concluded season of the Indian Premier League.
Whether it was batting at the top of the order or in the lower middle-order, or his bowling in the powerplay or at the death, the burly all-rounder performed almost every role with perfection for the Delhi Capitals.
Stoinis, despite his enormous talent, has failed to deliver on a consistent basis in international cricket as opposed to his performances in franchise cricket. And, it will be interesting to see if the all-rounder finally manages to emulate his exploits at the elite level in the upcoming T20I series against India.
It will be interesting to see at which spot Marcus Stoinis bats in the T20Is. He batted in the lower middle-order in the first two T20Is against England last September before being slotted to the No.3 slot in the final match. But that would mean slotting a traditional batsman like Steve Smith lower-down the order as they did in that final T20I against the Poms. Will Australia go down that route again or will they mold Stoinis in the role of a finisher- a role he performed with relative success in the IPL?
If there is a player who enhanced his reputation with disdain, it has got to be Shikhar Dhawan. Dhawan has been a prolific ODI batsman throughout his career but it was his exploits in T20 cricket that left a lot to be desired.
Dhawan’s strike-rate after the powerplay overs and his ability to shift gears as his innings progressed was one of his biggest Achilles heel over the years. That changed significantly in the recently concluded IPL.
Not only did he spearheaded the fledgling Delhi Capitals batting-unit with disdain, but he also batted with a certain tempo throughout his knocks.
Will Dhawan be able to emulate the same momentum in Indian colors?