The list of injuries continues to grow for the Australian cricket team. After David Warner and Ashton Agar, it’s Aaron Finch, who is in discomfort. The Australia captain sustained a hip injury during the first T20I against India, and remains a doubtful starter. If Finch misses out, it will result in a massive change in the Playing XI for Australia. With the series on the line, Australia need to win, and keeping that in mind, here is the XI we feel the hosts are likely to field.
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1 Aaron Finch/Matthew Wade (Captain): Finch has been in form and among the runs so far against India. From the ODIs, the Australia captain has carried his touch in the T20Is, which was visible during his knock before being dismissed by Yuzvendra Chahal. If Finch is not deemed fit, there is the likelihood that Matthew Wade will take over captaincy and open the batting for the hosts.
2 D ‘Arcy Short: The explosive D’Arcy Short looked in shortage of confidence during his stay of 34 off 38 balls even though his strike-rate was a bit of a concern. With Warner and possibly Finch out, Short’s responsibilities will grow towards providing Australia a good start with the bat.
3 Steve Smith: Run-machine in ODIs and Tests, Steve Smith isn’t quite the same when it comes to T20Is. After his lack of runs in the IPL, Smith perished for 12 in Canberra on Friday. He is fully capable of building an innings around him. The rate at which he scored the two centuries in Sydney, all Smith needs to do, is score at the same pace and that should do.
4 Glenn Maxwell: The Big Show, Glenn Maxwell was in sublime touch in the ODIs, scoring 167 runs from three innings, but in the first T20, was dismissed cheaply by Natarajan, whom he faced many times in IPL 2020. Now might be a good time for Maxwell to bring out the T20 behemoth that made him a sensation in the T20 format.
5 Moises Henriques: With the ball, Henriques was outstanding finishing with 3/22 and with the bat too, the all-rounder got a start. A toughie might feel Henriques gave his wicket away in the last two matches but the way he’s striking the ball should bring out ominous signs for India.
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6 Alex Carey: Wade’s promotion at the top of the batting order is likely to pave way for Alex Carey as the wicketkeeper batsman at No.6. He averages a low 12.57 in T20Is, but the world got a glimpse of his batting capabilities in the 2019 World Cup, where he nearly saw Australia home against South Africa. What a time it will be for Carey to produce a similar knock.
7 Sean Abbott: The bowling all-rounder returned expensive figures of 2/23 in two overs and even though Australia have added an extra spinner in Nathan Lyon in the squad, it is unlikely they’ll play three of them. Hence, Abbott’s place looks guaranteed.
8 Mitchell Swepson: Swepson bowled a few loose deliveries, and went for 21 runs off his two overs. On any other day, Lyon would have been a strong option to replace him, but do you leave out a bowler who tricked Virat Kohli and got his wicket in the previous game?
9 Adam Zampa: The wily leg-spinner Adam Zampa was economical with figures of 1/20 from his four overs, and is set to retain his place in the team, especially with the series on the line.
10 Mitchell Starc: On Friday, Mitchell Starc looked the Starc of old, bowling accurate line and length and generating steamy pace, which saw him get the wicket of Shikhar Dhawan. With no Pat Cummins, Starc’s role becomes all the more important for Australia
11 Josh Hazlewood: Hazlewood was a bit on the expensive side, but who can forget his dismissal of Kohli three matches in a row in the ODIs. With Starc, Hazlewood will be eyeing early India wickets.