VISAKHAPATNAM, Feb 23: Indian team will be aiming to lock in the last couple of available slots in their England-bound World Cup squad, when they square off with familiar foes Australia in a limited overs series starting with the first T20 here on Sunday.
The seven-match series comprising two T20 Internationals and five ODIs against a struggling Australian side, will be India�s last international assignment before the mega event starting May 30 in England and Wales.
With all but two places sealed, Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri will also treat these two T20 games as an extended audition for the World Cup hopefuls, who are still on the waiting list.
Skipper Kohli is back after a well-deserved three-week break and will be keeping a keen eye on the likes of Rishabh Pant and Vijay Shankar, two players who are strongly tipped to make the elite list.
Having edged out Dinesh Karthik in the ODI side in the race to the World Cup, Pant will get a few more chances to make a strong case for himself. For Vijay Shankar, it will be a great opportunity to make his case even stronger in the absence of Hardik Pandya, who is out with his recurring lower back injury.
Shankar has shown that he could be explosive with the bat and the question will be how effective he can be with the ball.
No one more than Dinesh Karthik will be more keen to make a statement as these two games will effectively be his last chance as he has already been dropped from the ODIs against Australia.
The Tamil Nadu veteran drew a lot of flak after he refused a single when Krunal Pandya was on a rampage at the other end in the series deciding T20 game against New Zealand which India lost by 4 runs.
With the return of India�s no 1 pacer Jasprit Bumrah, the bowling department that distinctly lacked sting against New Zealand, will be bolstered. � PTI
Match starts: 7pm IST