India captain Virat Kohli feels Australia all-rounder Marcus Stoinis is the single-biggest threat India will face in the upcoming Twenty20 International series, citing his improved performances in the Big Bash League.
Kohli expects the three-match series at home against Australia to be a tough challenge, pointing out that the two teams were involved in a couple of very close T20Is in Australia in late November.
In that series, Australia had won the first game by four runs, while India levelled the series in the final game, completing the chase with just two balls to spare. The second game had been abandoned due to poor weather.
"Few of the guys have done really well in the BBL," observed Kohli. "The last time we played, the games were close contests... both of them."
But of the lot of the visitors, Kohli has earmarked Stoinis to pose the biggest challenge to the home side. In the recently-concluded BBL 08, the all-rounder scored 533 runs at 53.30 from 13 digs for Melbourne Stars, and also picked up 14 wickets at 16.14.
"We obviously expect a stiff competition overall from the Australian team but if I had to single out one player that can make more impact that would be Marcus Stoinis," Kohli told reporters on Saturday, February 23, on the eve of the first T20I in Visakhapatnam.
"He's come around really well during the BBL and he's making standout performances on a consistent basis. You can see he's grown in confidence and he's definitely going to be a very important player for them," predicted the India captain.
Although the first leg of the Australian tour is in the shortest format, the teams are preparing with one eye on the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, which starts on May 30 in England. Kohli feels like the Indian team is quite settled although the team is prepared to make changes should the need arises.
"Through the course of the series, we might see something that might surprise you as a team and something that you might want to change immediately," said Kohli. "(But) on the whole I think we're pretty balanced as a side and I don't think there are any major areas or concerns that we need to think about anymore, everything is more or less sorted."
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