After the gripping pink ball test ending in a draw, both teams now lock horns in the 3 T20Is in the third leg of the multi-format series. With Australia leading the series 6-4, India has a big task ahead of them to win at least two matches to level the series.
The last time these two teams met each other in the T20 match was at MCG where they played the final of the T20 world cup in March 2020. India would like to totally erase the memory of that match which saw them losing by 85 runs after being bundled out for 99. However, that was just one match and India did everything right to reach the finals beating England and New Zealand as well on their way up.
Since the world cup, India has played bilateral series against England and South Africa and didn’t have a preferred outcome. Both series ended with the same scoreline of 2-1 in the opponents’ favour. South Africa had toured India while England were the hosts in the recently concluded series. Australia meanwhile has played against New Zealand twice and managed to win 3 and lose 2 matches that could be.
In the current series, one of the biggest pluses for India has been their newfound pace attack. Meghna Singh and Pooja Vastrakar both were very impressive in the ODIs as well as Test Match. Captain Harmanpreet Kaur expressed her appreciation towards Meghna Singh and Pooja Vastrakar, and both are likely to be included in the Squad. Shikha Pandey has been in good form and a regular in the shorter format so she might get her first game of the tour. The batting performance by Pooja Vastrakar might help India to get more on bowlers in.
Amongst the Spinners, Rajeshwari Gayakwad was very impressive in the T20 format earlier this year while experienced Deepti Sharma is more likely to continue her place with the all-round performance. Poonam Yadav who is having a great record against Australia might have an edge over Sneh Rana who otherwise is in a good form too.
Shafali Verma didn’t have a great outing in England where she didn’t manage to open the score twice, while made a quick 48 2nd T20. In Indians conditions, however, she was the player of the series after scoring 130 runs in three matches against South Africa. Though Shafali didn’t look at her best in the ODIs, the match practice of playing all 3 ODIs and 2 innings of the Test match, India will expect her to change the gears on in the upcoming matches. Smriti Mandhana on the other hand has been in prime form and also had a good series against England.
Captain Harmanpreet Kaur is back from injury and will be playing the first match of the tour. Her experience and form will be a big bonus for India. For the middle order, we will have to wait and see if Jemimah Rodrigues gets her first game of the tour or Punam Raut will make it to the playing XI. Richa Ghosh had a very impressive ODI series. She was quite quick with her strike rate too in the ODIs and it won’t be a surprise if she gets picked up ahead of Taniya Bhatia.
For Australia, even after the absence of Racheal Haynes, the batting lineup looks very firm and drafted. Beth Mooney, Alyssa Healy, Meg Lanning, Ellyse Perry and Ashleigh Gardner have left no argument in their selection based on the form. Ashleigh Gardner was in a cracking form against New Zealand and have also contributed well with the ball against India earlier this month. That gives Australia good options to pick for the all-rounders slot. Stacy Campbell, Annabel Sutherland might both get a chance to get into the game.
The biggest advantage for the hosts will be the return of pacer TaylaVlaeminck. Talya has been the core of their bowling attack, especially in the absence of Megan Schutt and Jess Jonassen. Hannah Darlington and Darcie Brown being the other pace options who have had a mixed tour so far. Sophie Molineux has been the best bowler by far in the ongoing series for Australia. She has consistently got the key breakthroughs while keeping the economy well in check. With Ashleigh Gardner in great form too, the inclusion of Georgia Wareham might be dependent on the pitch condition when they opt to go with 3 spinners.
India will be backing their performance in the series so far. The ODIs result were too close to be discouraged and in tests as well India had an upper hand. But with 2 points lead already on Australia’s side, it won’t be easy to bridge that gap in the T20 format. Australia has a very strong record and home and they will need just one win to ensure they are lot losing the series. The first match due tomorrow will be very crucial for India to take get the pressure off. With ODIs and Test matches both being so close, it’s quite certain Carrara is going to witness the cracker of the games.
Probable Playing XI:
Australia: Alyssa Healy, Beth Mooney, Meg Lanning (c), Ellyse Perry, Ashleigh Gardner, Tahlia McGrath, Annabel Sutherland, Tayla Vlaeminck, Stella Campbell, Sophie Molineux, Georgia Wareham
India: Smriti Mandhana (vc), Shafali Verma, Harmanpreet Kaur (c), Jemimah Rodrigues, Richa Ghosh (wk), Pooja Vastrakar, Deepti Sharma, Shikha Pandey, Meghna Singh, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Poonam Yadav
Australia: Meg Lanning (c), Darcie Brown, Maitlan Brown, Stella Campbell, Nicola Carey, Hannah Darlington, Ashleigh Gardner, Alyssa Healy, Tahlia McGrath, Sophie Molineux, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Georgia Redmayne, Molly Strano, Annabel Sutherland, Tayla Vlaeminck, Georgia Wareham
India: Harmanpreet Kaur (c), Smriti Mandhana (vc), Shafali Verma, Jemimah Rodrigues, Deepti Sharma, Sneh Rana, Yastika Bhatia, Shikha Pandey, Meghna Singh, Pooja Vastrakar, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Poonam Yadav, Richa Ghosh (wk), Harleen Deol, Arundhati Reddy, Radha Yadav, Renuka Singh Thakur