Steve Smith in doubt for first T20

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    Steve Smith is in doubt for Australia’s first T20 international against India with a shoulder injury.

    The Australia skipper had an MRI scan on Friday to assess the injury with soreness hampering him in the lead-up to the series.

    A Cricket Australia spokesperson confirmed there is doubt over his selection for Saturday’s match in Ranchi, the first of three T20 matches against India.

    It is understood there are no concerns about Smith’s availability for the Ashes, which kicks off on November 23 in Brisbane.

    If Smith misses the match, vice-captain David Warner could be in line to skipper the side, while Aaron Finch has also led Australia in T20 cricket.

    Smith’s injury compounds Australia’s bleak tour of India after the one-day international side were hammered 4-1.

    Paceman Jason Behrendorff is likely to make his long-awaited international debut, while Andrew Tye, who replaced Pat Cummins (rested), is among four quicks in the squad.

    Nathan Coulter-Nile was outstanding in the ODIs and Kane Richardson also impressed.

    Allrounders Dan Christian and Moises Henriques have also flown in for the T20 series.

    Wicketkeeper Tim Paine will take over from Matthew Wade, but is expected to bat down the order with Warner and Finch looking to continue their strong form as an opening duo.

    In the three ODIs they opened the batting, they put on first-wicket stands of 70, 231 and 66.

    Glenn Maxwell will be desperate to find some form ahead of the Ashes after a poor run in one-day cricket led to him being dropped for the final two matches.

    “We’re really lucky that we’ve got a really flexible batting order,” Paine said.

    “Glenn has opened the batting in a few Twenty20s for Australia in the subcontinent and done really well.

    “Finchy and Davey Warner are probably two of the better T20 opening batsmen in the world. I’d expect that they would probably open.”

    Curtailing India’s destructive batsmen will be key for the tourists, with captain Virat Kohli out to enhance his outstanding run against Australia in the shortest format.

    Kohli has smashed four half-centuries in his last four matches against Australia, three of them unbeaten.

    “He’s obviously a huge wicket tomorrow night and for the whole series,” Paine said.

    “I probably won’t go into any detail but we’ve certainly got a couple of plans, we’ll see how they go.”

    © AAP 2017

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