Why Australia’s five-match T20 series against India is actually important


Cricket fans are bemused by the prospect of Australia remaining in India to play a five-match T20 series after the World Cup but stand-in skipper Matthew Wade is adamant the fixtures will have significant meaning.

An under-strength Australian side will match up against a similarly weakened India line-up at Visakhapatnam on Friday in the first of five games.

For each team, they are five of only 11 scheduled T20 internationals planned between now and the World Cup in the Caribbean and US in June.

Time is running out for selectors to settle on their squad and this series is a chance for fringe players to put their name forward while Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Marsh, Josh Hazlewood, David Warner and Cameron Green are resting back home.

Wade was a left-field choice to captain the team with Marsh unavailable after leading the white-ball squads on the recent tour of South Africa and he is determined to make the most of this last chance to play international cricket.

World Cup final player of the match Travis Head is unlikely to suit up for game one of this series but Wade said the swashbuckling opener would get some game time in before returning home to prepare for the upcoming Test series against Pakistan.

“We will have a chat with him and see how he is feeling. There won’t be any pressure from us for him to play the first T20I, but he will definitely feature throughout the series,” Wade said.

“The T20 World Cup is not that far away and I think we have got 10 or 11 games before the battle kicks off again. Whether it’s tomorrow or throughout the series, you will see Travis play.

“With the World Cup not too far away, every game is important.”

Wade said the rest of the squad was physically fit but the likes of Josh Inglis, Glenn Maxwell, Adam Zampa and Steve Smith may need a mental freshen-up before playing again.

Travis Head celebrates his century during the World Cup final. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

“We are checking with the guys who played in the World Cup. We are trying to make sure that they are ready to go mentally and physically,” he said.

“So, there will be a few of those guys who will definitely miss out just to get themselves up and about for the next four games. Apart from the physical and mental fatigue, we have a full squad to pick from.

“Traditionally, the pitches are very, very good for batting over here. In the West Indies, they tend to slow up and take a little bit of spin. So, any opportunity we get on a slowish wicket with a bit of spin is an opportunity for someone to put their hand up and show what they can do.”

West Australian all-rounder Aaron Hardie was a late addition to the squad after Warner withdrew earlier this week and will compete with the likes of Matt Short, Marcus Stoinis and Sean Abbott for a berth in the T20 World Cup squad.

Suryakumar Yadav has been named India’s captain and will be the only member from the final that will be available to play in Friday’s opener in Visakhapatnam.

Australia: Matthew Wade (c), Aaron Hardie, Jason Behrendorff, Sean Abbott, Tim David, Nathan Ellis, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Glenn Maxwell, Tanveer Sangha, Matt Short, Steve Smith, Marcus Stoinis, Kane Richardson, Adam Zampa.

India: Suryakumar Yadav (c), Ruturaj Gaikwad, Ishan Kishan, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Tilak Varma, Rinku Singh, Jitesh Sharma, Washington Sundar, Axar Patel, Shivam Dube, Ravi Bishnoi, Arshdeep Singh, Prasidh Krishna, Avesh Khan, Mukesh Kumar, Shreyas Iyer (last two matches only).

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