The star duo of MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli have their respective battles against the    laws       AFP
The star duo of MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli have their respective battles against the laws AFP

The headline has no mention of Australian cricketers. There s no intention to demean the fine side. But India are strong, too strong. And this is one format where India hold the edge over Australia when it comes to head-to-head encounters: India have won 9, whereas Australia 4. In fact, India have won the last 6 encounters against them.

Ranchi is set to get its rare dose of T20. Earlier this year, the venue saw Glenn Maxwell mock Virat Kohli s shoulder injury, followed by the Indian captain giving a shoulder send-off to David Warner. Then a fired-up Pat Cummins duelled against an in-form KL Rahul. The venue also witnessed a rare moment an expressive Wriddhiman Saha responding to Josh Hazlewood s barbs. Yes, Saha was fired up.

Taking on from Ranchi, fire, and the Indian wicketkeeper, the ice-cool MS Dhoni is set to play his 79th T20I. He will be the fifth most capped (currently he is tied with Mohammad Hafeez in the same spot) cricketer in this format. He already tops the Indian charts.


Expect the same intensity with the added flavour of the signature T20 trumpet as India play Australia in the first T20I of the series. Here are the predicted key battles.

MS Dhoni vs ICC new laws for fake fielding

The change in fielding law has opened Pandora s Box according to former India batsman Sanjay Manjrekar. Queensland s Marnus Labuschagne was the first victim when he was found guilty of trying to fool a batsman by faking a throw during the JLT One-Day Cup last week.

The new Law 41.5 states: It is unfair for any fielder willfully to attempt, by word or action, to distract, deceive or obstruct either batsman after the striker has received the ball.

Here s Labuschagne s offence:

Meanwhile, Manjrekar wants ICC to reconsider this.

MCC s Laws of Cricket manager, Fraser Stewart, defended the law. MS Dhoni has a bagful of trickery. It may label him a cheat .

Fraser specifically answered an MS Dhoni-related question while speaking to ESPNCricinfo, If Dhoni is deliberately trying to make it look like he has missed the ball when he has it in his hands for a stumping, it is an attempt to deceive the batsman and would fall foul of the law. However, transferring it onto the stumps in a subtle way after receiving the ball would be acceptable. It is for the umpires on the field to decide if it is deception or not.

MS Dhoni   s tricks could be soon be labelled    cheat       AFP
MS Dhoni s tricks could be soon be labelled cheat AFP

Mind you, this series will be played with the old laws in place but the Ranchi boy will have to start preparing for the future. He could falter or triumph under umpire s subjectivity. How the Indian stalwart responds to these norms will be interesting to note.

From laws to the other law, but let us stick to India and Australia for now. Virat Kohli might have a penchant for defying law of averages, but the latter does stand as a serious threat.

Kohli is by far the best batter in limited-overs cricket and rules the charts in T20I rankings as well. His average against Australia is almost 67 and that comes with a strike rate of 145.

His last four innings in T20Is against Australia read: 82 (51)*, 50 (36), 59 (33)* and 90 (55)*.

For the law of averages to prevail, Australia have their hopes pinned on Nathan Coulter-Nile, the man who has managed to dismiss Kohli on four occasions in the last six months.

Ashish Nehra vs Aaron Finch

Whatever one may say, Nehra s selection in the T20I side is based on merit, and it might prove to be a masterstroke. India have not been able to handle the Finch threat. The opener has been in sublime form and milked the Indian bowlers for runs.

Finch is a monster in this format and currently at the second spot in the batsmen s ranking for T20Is. However, he isn t at his best against quality left-arm seam-bowling. India did not have any in the ODIs. The ball that moves back in after pitching on off-stump has troubled Finch in international cricket. Nehra is a master with those angles. India might have well decoded Finch.

Yuzvendra Chahal vs Glenn Maxwell

India will most likely field 2 of their 3 spinners in this game. Maxwell will eye the stands. A year back, as an opener he had butchered the Sri Lankan bowling. It won t be a bad ploy to get him open the innings.

Chahal has so far proven to be a nightmare for Maxwell, getting him on all three occasions in the ODIs leading to him getting axed. The demands in ODIs were stability. In this format, Maxwell has the license to go for the kill.

Maxwell would be eyeing to play at least 20 to 25 balls. If he does, he will make a serious impact. Chahal meanwhile would not mind baiting his target.