India haven't won a series Down Under for a very long time now © PTI
India haven’t won a series Down Under for a very long time now © PTI

In a week’s time from now, former world champions India will lock horns with the current world champs Australia in a limited-overs series in their own den. It’s a rare occasion, when the two teams are meeting for such a short series instead of a full tour Down Under. But considering that ICC World T20 2016 is just a couple of months away, it is certainly not a bad idea to play a tough and testing Twenty20 International (T20I) series in challenging conditions. It gives a great opportunity not only to the sides to test their skills ahead of the mega event, but also to the selectors to try the fringe players and pick the best combination. This is exactly where the selection panel of both the teams have hit the bull’s-eye! FULL SCORECARD: Australia vs India, 1st ODI at Perth

The meeting of India’s five wise men lead by Sandeep Patil proved out to be a winner when they announced the One-Day International (ODI) and T20I squad for the tour. They made some bold decisions by infusing young blood into the side. The players — uncapped Barinder Sran, Hardik Pandya and Rishi Dhawan — had been doing well on the domestic circuit for quite some time now and it was imperative to give them their due chances. Others like Gurkeerat Singh and Manish Pandey too had been travelling with the team on last few assignments and it was only apt they got a break into the playing XI.

With the presence of non-performing seniors in the side, it was unlikely for them to get their chances. This is where the selectors scored a perfect-10; they dropped Suresh Raina, thus creating a window in the playing XI for the ODIs. This means either one of Gurkeerat or Pandey is a definite starter for the ODIs, and if they do well there, they stand a great chance to be picked for the ICC World T20 2016. Similarly, the likes of Sran and Dhawan would also fancy their chances for the premier tournament despite not being named in the T20I squad.

The Australian selectors were not far behind either. In picking a young squad, they too made it clear that their eyes were set on the larger picture the ICC World T20 2016. They sprang a surprise by leaving out the experienced Shane Watson and naming the unheralded Joel Paris and Scott Boland in their 13-member squad. Though the squad is only for the ODIs and not the T20Is, the message was loud and clear — ‘we are looking at the future’. The comeback of Kane Richardson and Shaun Marsh in the limited-overs side only confirmed their intent. READ: Australia’s squad for ODI series against India 2015-16 speaks of depth in talent reserves

Taking the old-guard

It was not only about the youth, the selectors also did not shy away from picking the proven performers, showing they are willing to bet on horses for courses in the shortest format. They went back to the past to pick the old-guard Yuvraj Singh and Ashish Nehra, who had been out of the side for long time now. For somebody like Nehra, who had even admitted of giving-up the hope of representing India again, it was like rebirth. Once again the intent was clear; they were being drafted in keeping the ICC World T20 2016 in mind. The two of them have been part of India’s World Cup winning squads and the experience they bring to the table for big tournaments is priceless. Their presence for the mega event — provided they perform well in Australia and get picked for it — will be a huge boost to India’s chances in the tournament.

Ask a cricketer, and you will know what it feels like playing a World Cup for your country. To play in the mega event has always been a dream for any cricketer. Over the years, many players have planned their careers keeping the World Cup in mind. They have trained themselves day in day out and managed their injuries just to be fit for it. Some have even hung their boots after the conclusion of the multi-nation event. Such is the importance of a World Cup, and it is only fair that this time around, the selectors too have named the squads accordingly — by keeping the broader picture in mind. Now the onus is on the selected players to showcase their skills and book a berth in the squad for the ICC World T20 2016. READ: Virat Kohli hopes India play competitive cricket in Australia tour 2015-16

(A self-confessed cricket freak, Chinmay Jawalekar is a senior writer with CricLife and CricketCountry. When not writing or following cricket, he loves to read, eat and sleep. He can be followed here @CricfreakTweets)