Australia are beginning to turn one eye to next year’s Twenty20 World Cup in India, but more immediately top spot in the world rankings is on the line.
The lure of returning to the top of the Twenty20 tree is on offer for Australia if they can beat India in their three-match series.
The T20s, which begin on Friday night in Canberra, offer the last white-ball hit out for Australia until February in New Zealand.
The team went top of the Twenty20 charts in May, dethroning Pakistan after a 27-month stint at the top.
It marked Australia’s first stint at No.1 since the ICC T20 rankings were introduced in 2011.
However, their 2-1 series loss to England earlier this year opened the door for England who went to the top on Tuesday after whitewashing South Africa 3-0.
A win on Friday night will put Australia back on top, while a series victory will ensure they stay ahead of England in the longer term.
Australia had put a significant amount of planning into their Twenty20 team in the past 18 months, ahead of what was meant to be a home World Cup.
But the event was eventually postponed until 2022 due to COVID-19, with next year’s tournament still scheduled to go ahead in India at this stage.
While it will be played on the sub-continent, Australia insist that the similar nature of T20 pitches around the world means their preparations need not change too much.
Working in their favour at least is the fact they have a heavy reliance on playing two front-line spinners, with Ashton Agar and Adam Zampa both regulars in the T20 team.
“Most international wickets to be fair are very good wickets,” Agar told AAP.
“They are all similar. The wickets are pretty flat and the grounds are quite small.
“But that’s where spinners come into play, because guys are going to try and hit you out of the ground.
“But that also presents chances to get wickets in the middle overs.”
Agar himself remains under an injury cloud for Friday night with a sore calf, while Mitchell Starc is hopeful of beating rib soreness to play.
Australia meanwhile still remain at the top of the Test world rankings, with that position to again go on the line this summer against India in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.