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India ponder bowling combination ahead of first T20I

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Murali Kartik: Surprising to see Australia rest key players (5:17)

Kartik has no room for Krunal Pandya in his India XI, while AJ Tye misses out in Shaun Tait's XI for Australia (5:17)

Big Picture

In an alternate universe, this could have been a tour with mouth-watering match-ups: Steven Smith v Virat Kohli, David Warner v Rohit Sharma. MS Dhoni could have been in the mix, too, in the T20Is. But in this universe, let's be (elitely) honest, there seems to be no bottom to the abyss Australia are hurtling into following the Newlands ball-tampering scandal and India, despite the absence of their key two-in-one player Hardik Pandya, start the first part of the tour as firm favourites.

That the hosts will also be without Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and Nathan Lyon, who are all preparing for the Test series, skews this T20I series further. Even when a few of their first-choice bowlers were available for the T20Is against Pakistan in the UAE, Australia were blanked 3-0. After being tied into knots by Shadab Khan and Imad Wasim, they were rattled by the pace and bounce of Dale Steyn and Kagiso Rabada at home.

Jasprit Bumrah and Khaleel Ahmed could extract similar disconcerting bounce against a "fairly one-dimensional" collection of batsmen, as Australia's accidental captain Aaron Finch described his batting line-up last week.

Australia themselves are plotting a short-ball barrage against Rohit Sharma at the Gabba. So who'll blink first?

Dinesh Karthik and Rishabh Pant, meanwhile, resume their auditions for Dhoni's spot in T20Is. Perhaps there is more pressure on Karthik, who did not get as much batting time as Pant did in the T20Is against West Indies. Karthik has also slipped down the pecking order in India's World Cup plans.

Form guide

Australia LLLLW
India WWWWL

In the spotlight

Close to three years after making his international debut there, Jasprit Bumrah returns to Australia as one of the most versatile bowlers in the world. He was India's top wicket-taker, with six wickets in three matches, when they swept Australia 3-0 in the T20I series in 2016. He will fancy his chances, again, against a severely weakened Australia side that hasn't seen much of his slingy action or exaggerated angle.

Jason Behrendorff, Nathan Coulter-Nile, and Andrew Tye have all been central to Perth Scorchers' stellar run in the Big Bash League. Among the three, Behrendorff could pose a greater threat to India's batsmen, given their recent troubles against left-arm pace. In his second T20I against India in Guwahati last year, Behrendorff had blasted out India's top four.

Team news

India opted to bench Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Washington Sundar and Umesh Yadav for the series opener. Virat Kohli was back to leading the team after having skipped the T20I series against West Indies. India's XII, named on the eve of the game, included three spin-bowling options. Krunal Pandya, by virtue of his all-round skills, could get the nod in the XI at the expense of one of the wristspin duo of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal. India are likely to have a three-man pace attack comprising Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Khaleel.

India (possible): 1 Rohit Sharma, 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Virat Kohli (capt), 4 KL Rahul, 5 Rishabh Pant (wk), 6 Dinesh Karthik, 7 Krunal Pandya, 8 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 9 Kuldeep Yadav/Yuzvendra Chahal, 10 Jasprit Bumrah, 11 Khaleel Ahmed.

Australia, who had opted for an all-seam attack in the first ever international game on the Gold Coast, might continue with the same template and bench legspinner Adam Zampa.

Australia (possible): 1 Aaron Finch (capt), 2 D'Arcy Short, 3 Chris Lynn, 4 Glenn Maxwell, 5 Marcus Stoinis, 6 Ben McDermott, 7 Alex Carey (wk), 8 Nathan Coulter-Nile, 9 Andrew Tye, 10 Jason Behrendorff, 11 Billy Stanlake

Pitch and conditions

The extra bounce that Gabba offers and the large square boundaries will encourage both teams to pack their bowling attacks with pace. The weather is expected to be fine for the duration of the match.

Stats and Trivia

  • Three of the top-ten scorers in T20s in 2018 - Finch (1295), Pant (1189) and Short (1099) - could be in action on Wednesday.

  • Behrendorff has the best strike rate (16.22) among bowlers with a minimum of 30 wickets in the Powerplay since 2012-13

Quotes

It's a great advantage for us to be able to start off in this format against India. They've been so dominant in this format, I think people forget we're actually playing it sometimes."
Australia captain Aaron Finch

"Both of them have been outstanding [and] the reason why both of them have been good is because they're thinking bowlers. They understand the situation and get a gut feel of what a batsman is looking to do before they're going to bowl. And the ability to kind of predict what's going to happen on each ball is what keeps them a step ahead of the batsmen most of the time."
India captain Virat Kohli on Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar