India vs Australia, 1st T20I: Preview, predictions, likely XIs, pitch analysis
Virat Kohli and Aaron Finch pose with the series trophy before the first T20I. @Getty

Hitting the ground running ahead of the bigger picture looms as the key to success in Australia for Virat Kohli’s Indian cricket team as they meet the home team in the first of three Twenty20 internationals in Brisbane on Wednesday.

WATCH: Gabba T20I to set the tone for India vs Australia summer

In Kohli they have the best all-format batsman in the game, with KL Rahul ranked fourth in T20Is and Rohit Sharma seventh, while in the bowling the masterful pair of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah are back to add strength to an attack featuring the fourth-ranked T20I bowler, Yuzvendra Chahal, and Kuldeep Yadav. Confidence is high, as Rohit stated this week, and now channeling the good vibrations into the first match of a tough tour is what India need to do. They are a team that walk the talk in limited-overs cricket, and will back themselves to win again after sweeping Australia 3-0 in T20Is in 2016.

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Australia are led by the second-ranked batsman in T20Is, Aaron Finch, and are in the midst of a batting funk that has seen them struggle to compete. They have issues with their batting and have won nine of 16 T20Is this year, losing seven which includes a run of five defeats in six games – to Pakistan in the final of a tri-series in Zimbabwe followed by three to Pakistan in the UAE last month and last Saturday to South Africa in a one-off.

India likely XI: 1 Rohit Sharma, 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Virat Kohli (capt), 3 KL Rahul, 5 Rishabh Pant, 6 Dinesh Karthik (wk), 7 Krunal Pandya, 8 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 9 Kuldeep Yadav, 10 Jasprit Bumrah, 11 Khaleel Ahmed

India have named their 12 for the series opener, leaving out Manish Pandey from the last T20I they played. Bhuvneshwar and Bumrah are back, with Krunal Pandya at No 7 as the spin-bowling allrounder and the left-armer Khaleel Ahmed as the third pacer on a lively Gabba surface. Chahal is the 12th man on the team sheet. With Kohli slotting back for his T20I since July, Pandey has made way. Rishabh Pant will keep wickets and Dinesh Karthik will play as a specialist batsman.

Australia likely XI: 1 Aaron Finch (capt), 2 Chris Lynn, 3 D’Arcy Short, 4 Glenn Maxwell, 5 Marcus Stones, 6 Ben McDermott, 7 Alex Carey (wk), 8 Nathan Coulter-Nile, 9 Adam Zampa/Ashton Agar, 10 Jason Behrendorff, 11 Billy Stanlake

The squad is the same as the one picked to face South Africa last week, so few changes are expected. Chris Lynn has not crossed 44 in nine T20Is this year, from which he averages 18.11 while D’Arcy short has scores of 4, 2, 10 and 0 since he collected consecutive fifties in Zimbabwe in July. Both are expected to bat in the top three, with Ben McDermott – he of three successive run-outs in T20Is – dropping down the order.

Australia will consider playing four three bowlers out of Nathan Coulter-Nile, Andrew Tye, Jason Behrendorff and Billy Stanlake as they plan to target Rohit with short balls at the Gabba, which leaves one of Adam Zampa and Ashton Agar to get the nod as specialist spinner.

Pitch and conditions: The bouncy Gabba surface indicates that pace is the way to go, but the large boundaries will encourage both teams to play a spinner. Australian teams traditionally enjoy the Gabba surface. The weather forecast is for a sunny day with a high of 31 degrees.

Prediction: India start favourites for the first time on Australian soil. Unlike past tours to Australia, this time around they begin with a distinct advantage. Kohli’s team is ranked second in T20Is after winning 13 of 16 matches this year, which includes a 2-1 series win in South Africa in February, the tri-series Nidahas Trophy title triumph in Sri Lanka, a 2-0 win over Ireland, 2-1 in England and most recently 3-0 over West Indies.