India are all set to square off with Australia in the opening T20I of the two-match series at the ACA-VDCA Cricket Stadium in Visakhapatnam on Sunday.
The two-match series and the subsequent five-match ODIs will serve as the final limited-overs fixtures for both the sides ahead of the International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cup, which is slated to be held from May 30 to July 14 in England and Wales.
The Men in Blue will look to take advantage of their home turf and replicate a similar kind of performance as they displayed against Australia Down Under. In January, India ended their two-month long tour to Australia on a promising note as they became the first ever team from the country to clinch bilateral Test series and ODI series win in Australia.
Meanwhile, Aaron Finch-led side-- who are heading into the series following a recent 2-0 win in the three-match T20I series against Sri Lanka-- will be keen to take revenge of their home defeat to India.
The series will mark as a great opportunity for players to step up and give their absolute best in order to grab national selectors' attention ahead of the mega event. Let us have a look at some of the players to watch out for:
The upcoming series will provide a great opportunity to Rishabh Pant to strengthen his case for selection as the second wicketkeeper-batsman after Mahendra Singh Dhoni in the 2019 Word Cup. The 21-year-old, who received the emerging player of the year award, has been in great form in recent times. He notched a total of 684 runs with a strike rate of 160 in the 2018 edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL), something which also handed him the Orange Cap.
Pant, who made his Test debut against England only in August 2018, continued his good form in four-match Test series against Australia in December as he scored 350 runs at an average of 58.33. He, however, failed to score big in the recent three T20Is against New Zealand, managing a total of 72 runs (4, 40 and 28) in three innings for India.
2) Vijay Shankar
With Hardik Pandya ruled out of the two-match T20I series as well as subsequent ODIs against Australia due to back stiffness, Vijay Shankar has a great chance to grab national selectors' attention ahead of the selection of India's World Cup squad.
Though Shankar has showcased his hitting ability by notching some quick runs in the recent T20I series, his temperament was tested when the Men in Blue were reeling at 18-4 during the last ODI against New Zealand and he pulled back a crucial knock of 45 to keep the Men in Blue in the game while chasing a score of 213 runs.He was, however, not given an opportunity to bowl throughout the series.
3) Marcus Stoinis
Fresh from an impressive Big Bash League (BBL) season in the 2018-19 edition of the tournament, all-rounder Marcus Stoinis' presence in the Australian squad for the series against India is expected to make a difference. Stoinis emerged as the complete all-rounder for Melbourne Stars in the BBL as he not only finished as the third highest run-getter in the tournament with 533 runs but also picked up 14 wickets.
Having played in the Indian Premier League (IPL), Stoinis recent form can pose a serious threat to the Indians in the upcoming series.
4) Yuzvendra Chahal
Indian spinner Yuzvendra Chahal has been in good form as evident from his performances during the recent away series against Australia and New Zealand.With Kuldeep Yadav being rested, the 28-year-old will look to play make an impact in familiar home conditions.
Chahal displayed a brilliant performance in the ODI series against Australia in January, including finishing with the figures of six for 42 runs in the Melbourne ODI. He also became the first spinner to pick six wickets in an ODI in Australia.
5) D'Arcy Short
D'Arcy Short, who was named as the player of the tournament for the second consecutive time in the BBL, will look to make the most of the Indian tour ahead of the ICC World Cup. The 28-year-old amassed a total of 637 runs, including six half-centuries, in 14 matches he played for the Hurricanes in the BBL.
Short was also part of the previous series against India in Australia, but he failed to make much impact. He will now look to capitalise on his good form and deliver a better performance this time around.
The two squads are as follows:
India: Virat Kohli (captain), Rohit Sharma (v-c), KL Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan, Rishabh Pant, Dinesh Karthik, MS Dhoni (wk), Krunal Pandya, Vijay Shankar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Umesh Yadav, Sidharth Kaul, Mayank Markande.
Australia: Aaron Finch (c), D'Arcy Short, Pat Cummins, Alex Carey, Jason Behrendorff, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Peter Handscomb, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Glenn Maxwell, Jhye Richardson, Kane Richardson, Marcus Stoinis, Ashton Turner, Adam Zampa.