India start firm favorites against the Aussies in the first T20 International at Brisbane on Wednesday having won 13 of their 16 T20 International encounters in 2018. That's a win percentage of more than 81%. Reminds me of the Ponting era eh! But this is Virat's Champion side. More than anything else, it would be a test of his captaincy. Taming Australia is no mean feat, albeit a weaker under performing Australia.
The last time the two sides met for the shortest format duel in Australia in 2016, Team India was by far the superior side winning everything that came their way. But India need to be a bit wary. These are not home conditions, the pace of the wicket will be different and with an over reliance on the top 3 to deliver, Team India should stay guarded to say the least. I expect a watchful start from the likes of Rohit and Shikhar. The Aussie bowling is their stronger suit and could be very potent on bouncy pitches with long square boundaries at Brisbane. The likes of Coulter-Nile, Billy Stanlake and the wily Andrew Tye could be more than handy in home conditions. On the other hand it would be interesting to see how the Indian pace bowling unit uses these conditions. Khaleel gets bounce and could be the X-factor. In recent times he has shown glimpses of edge of the seat form. India will miss Hardik Pandya though the elder Pandya might be just as vital to the team's fortunes.
Then, Aaron Finch is due for a big one. He can deflate any bowling unit single-handedly. India may give the ball to Krunal Pandya early to negate that threat.
Also, Australia have not seen a Chinaman bowler since Brad Hogg, and it would be interesting to see how the Aussies fare against Kuldeep Yadav. Expect Kuldeep, Chahal and Krunal to make an impact. The Aussie middle and lower middle batting order has faltered of late and their big guns have fired but not seen them home on most occasions. The likes of Chris Lynn, Glenn Maxwell, D'arcy Short will have to make it count if Aussies want to compete with this stylish Indian batting unit. Chris Lynn has especially been disappointing with the bat in 2018 in T20 Internationals with just 163 runs at an average of just over 18. Virat Kohli hasnt played too many matches either this year and his tally of 146 runs from 7 outings is quite unbelievable given his form and the kind of run aggregates we have all come to expect of him. Surprisingly and quietly Manish Pandey in 2018, has 299 runs with a stupendous average of 75 and strike rate of 121 making a serious case for the playing XI. He may have fallen behind in the pecking order, but did well the last time Team India were here in Australia. Remember the famous hundred in a winning chase. Remains one of the best innings from an Indian middle order batsman in recent memory. But that was 50 over arena. This is T20 and at the moment KL Rahul and Rishabh Pant will both play ahead of him, assuming Karthik is the default keeper batsman given his exploits with KKR have not yet been forgotten. So sadly for Manish, all the three potential keepers in the squad will play.