India will hope a morale-boosting 5th ODI win gives them the momentum to begin the Twenty-20 series against Australia with a win in the 1st T20 in Adelaide on Tuesday.
After a botched chase in the last few overs of the 4th ODI, India showed a lot more poise in the fifth one-day international in Sydney – thanks largely to the nerveless Manish Pandey, who, unfortunately isn't a part of the T20 squad -- to mark their first international win on this tour. That should act as a solid harbinger of positive T20 results, because, at the end of the day, the ODI series was a pretty pointless one.
With no big ODI tournaments on the horizon, this one-day series was just for the big TV bucks, while the T20s will be mostly about tuning the team up for the World T20, which India will host.
Both Australia and India will be seen as favourites to clinch the World T20 title, when it swings-in in March, and a nice little tune up courtesy these three T20s will be welcomed by both teams.
India have a few changes to their squad for these T20 matches, with the most exciting (or one that fills you with trepidation, depending on your perspective) of them being Yuvraj Singh. The left-hander makes his return to the T20 squad for the first time since that poor innings in the final of the World T20 2014 against Sri Lanka.
Some impressive runs in domestic cricket has forced the selectors to pick Yuvraj, and if there ever is a time to perform for the left-hander, it would be now.
Two other veterans also keen to make an impression will be Suresh Raina and Harbhajan Singh. Raina was dropped from the ODI squad that played Australia after his struggles with the bat against South Africa, but after leading Uttar Pradesh to victory in the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament, the left-hander will want to score plenty of runs in India colours. Harbhajan will feel the need to perform as well, after doing reasonably well against South Africa, but still finding his name missing from the ODI series.
Another of the players to watch in this T20 series will be Hardik Pandya, who just might be that bits-and-pieces all-rounder, who can tonk the ball a long way, that India have been craving for a long time.
With a record number of runs being scored in the ODI series, expect this T20 matches to go the same as well. The first T20 should see a big crowd in Adelaide, and the smart money will be on the team that chases. It is clear no total is safe on these flat pitches, and chasing a score, even if it ends up being over 200, might be the better option.
Australia have been outstanding with the bat so far on this tour, and with Chris Lynn and Travis Head, two batsmen who set the BBL alight, coming into the squad, along with Shane Watson, expect a few more of those big sixes to rain into the crowd.
1st T20 schedule: India vs Australia.
Date: Tuesday, 26 January.
Time: 7.10 pm local time (2.10 pm IST, 8.40 am GMT, 3.40 am ET).
Venue: Adelaide Oval.
TV listings: India: Star Sports 1, Star Sports HD1, Star Sports 3, Star Sports HD3. Australia: Channel 9. UK: Sky Sports1. USA: Willow TV. Middle East and North Africa: OSN Cricket. South Africa and Sub Saharan Africa: SuperSport.