With the ICC World Cup 2019 drawing near, India starts their final limited-overs run with the first T20I against Australia in Visakhapatnam on February 24.
India's preparations have been hampered by the injury to Hardik Pandya who has been ruled out of the entire duration of Australia's visit owing to a stiff lower back. The all-rounder had initially injured it during the Asia Cup in September 2017 before making a comeback in the Test series in Australia. But a talk show controversy delayed his on-field appearance and after some good performances against New Zealand, he finds himself on the sideline yet again.
But the good news for India is the return of their captain Virat Kohli who missed the last two ODIs and the entire T20I series against New Zealand as he wanted to rest before the final lap leading up to the World Cup. India has otherwise opted for a near full-strength squad with only Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Kuldeep Yadav rested.
Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan will open the batting while Kohli will bat at number 3. It will be interesting to see how and in which position Vijay Shankar is used. He played as a pure batsman in New Zealand but Pandya's absence might see him bat at number 7 and bowl 4 overs. MS Dhoni is expected to don the keeping gloves and Dinesh Karthik will be extremely eager to prove a point to the selectors who left him out for the subsequent ODI series.
Jasprit Bumrah also makes his return to the international setup since being rested following the Test series triumph Down Under. He will partner either Siddharth Kaul or Umesh Yadav with the new ball while Yuzvendra Chahal and Krunal Pandya will be the spinning options. It is likely that Kaul will start ahead of Umesh given he has also been selected in the squad for the first two ODIs.
For Australia, skipper Aaron Finch is expected to open the batting with Alex Carrey while Marcus Stoinis will handle the middle-order with Glenn Maxwell. The Aussies have brought Pat Cummins to the tour and he will lead the pace bowling department in the company Nathan Coulter-Nile and Jhye Richardson. It will be interesting to see whether Australia decide to play Adam Zampa plays as the spinner or opt for the experience of Nathan Lyon.
India: Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli (C), Rishabh Pant, MS Dhoni (WK), Dinesh Karthik, Vijay Shankar, Krunal Pandya, Siddharth Kaul, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah
Australia: Aaron Finch (C), Alex Carrey (WK), Usman Khawaja, D'Arcy Short, Marcus Stoinis, Ashton Turner, Glenn Maxwell, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Pat Cummins, Jhye Richardson, Adam Zampa
Pitch and conditions
The pitch at Dr Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy ACA-VDCA Cricket Stadium in Vizag is expected to be on the slower side. With a run rate of 7.53, this venue has the lowest run rate of all stadiums in India in the IPL since 2014. Thus, expect the slower bowlers to come into play and India will want Chahal to spin a web around the Aussie batsmen. The Indian batsmen will also have to adjust to bigger ground sizes after playing small stadiums in New Zealand.
There is no rain forecast for Sunday's match and the players will be playing the match under a clear night sky. Temperatures are expected to be around the 28 degree Celsius mark.