Ageing stars in spotlight as WT20 prep begins
January 26, 2016
Start time 1908 local (0838 GMT)
Remember Twenty20 internationals? Australia's players vaguely do, though the memories are hazy. Two entire Big Bash League seasons have been played and won since Australia last played a T20 international at home. In fact, since November 2014, they have played only one T20 match anywhere in the world - a one-off game in Cardiff against England that followed last year's Ashes series. In 2014 they played 14 matches in the shortest form, though there was a World T20 that year, but 2015 was all about the World Cup and its preparations, then the Ashes and its preparations. But now another World T20 is around the corner, to be held in India in March, and Australia suddenly need to think about the shortest format again.
India played a handful more T20s last year, but still not that many. And a 1-1 draw with Zimbabwe followed by a 2-0 loss at the hands of South Africa does not suggest they will click back into T20s straightaway. But, like Australia, they need to use these matches wisely to prepare for the World T20, finding both form and their preferred XI. Perhaps the most notable feature of India's series will be the return of Ashish Nehra, who has not played an international since the semi-final of the 50-overs World Cup in 2011, and Yuvraj Singh, who last played for his country in the final of the previous World T20 in Bangladesh in April 2014.
Both teams also have four potential T20 debutants, and will want to give almost everyone a chance during the three games as they prepare for the World T20. Whatever happens on Tuesday, one of these teams will finish their national day with reason to celebrate - January 26 is Republic Day in India as well as Australia Day.
Australia: LWWLW (last five completed matches, most recent first)
In the spotlight
At his peak, Shaun Tait was one of the fastest bowlers in the world, but his star shone only briefly in international cricket. He retired after the 2011 World Cup but now finds himself back in the national squad as the selectors search for quick options ahead of the World T20. Whether Tait can follow the likes of Brad Hogg and Brad Hodge in making a World T20 squad long after his international career appeared to be over depends on how he goes in this series.
Yuvraj Singh's last appearance for India was not a happy one: he soaked up 21 balls to make 11 in the final of the World T20, which India lost to Sri Lanka. But his overall international record speaks for itself, and his 346 runs at 69.20 in the recent Vijay Hazare Trophy - India's domestic one-day tournament - convinced the selectors he still had something to offer. Now to justify that faith.
Good luck trying to predict this XI after Australia's selectors have picked a squad of 17 for the team's second T20 in more than a year. Some players, including Steven Smith and David Warner, will head to New Zealand on Saturday to prepare for the ODI series there, which means they will not be available for the third and final T20 against India. That in turn could mean some of the more fringe players might have to wait until then for their opportunity. What is known is that Glenn Maxwell has a hamstring niggle and will not play game one.
Australia (possible) 1 David Warner, 2 Aaron Finch (capt), 3 Steven Smith, 4 Chris Lynn/Travis Head, 5 Shane Watson, 6 James Faulkner, 7 Matthew Wade (wk), 8 John Hastings, 9 Nathan Lyon, 10 Cameron Boyce, 11 Shaun Tait
Similarly, it is not easy to know who India will opt for, but MS Dhoni hinted after the ODI series that some of the newcomers would be given an opportunity in the T20s.
India (possible) 1 Shikhar Dhawan, 2 Rohit Sharma, 3 Suresh Raina, 4 Virat Kohli, 5 MS Dhoni (capt & wk), 6 Yuvraj Singh, 7 Hardik Pandya, 8 Ravindra Jadeja, 9 R Ashwin/Harbhajan Singh, 10 Jasprit Bumrah, 11 Ashish Nehra
Pitch and conditions
The average first-innings score in BBL matches at Adelaide Oval this summer was 167, and there was no particular advantage to batting first or second.
The forecast for Tuesday is for a top temperature of 31C, and no rain is expected.
Stats and trivia
- Michael Di Venuto will be Australia's acting coach while Darren Lehmann receives treatment for his deep vein thrombosis
- The ICC's T20 rankings are so fluid that both Australia and India could finish this series as high as first or as low as eighth
- There are four players in each squad who are yet to make their T20I debuts: Rishi Dhawan, Jasprit Bumrah, Gurkeerat Singh and Hardik Pandya for India, and Nathan Lyon, Travis Head, Andrew Tye and Scott Boland for Australia
"Hopefully we can get everyone one or two games at least, to give them a chance. There's a big carrot at the end of this with the World Cup team being picked, and you can only pick 15 people. We want to give people opportunities to see what they can do."
Australia's acting head coach Michael di Venuto
"I think every game from here on till the World T20 will be extremely important. It gives you a chance to try different players and see what combination works best for you."
India's team director Ravi Shastri
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @brydoncoverdale