India are set to take on Australia in a three-match home series – an important warm-up for the hotly-anticipated T20 World Cup, which will go on from October 16 to November 13 this year. Three T20Is versus Australia will serve as quality game practice for the Indian side that could not even qualify for the semifinals the previous year, as they crashed out of the showpiece event in the ‘Super 12’ phase. Also Read | ‘We all know that when it comes to India…’: Mohammad Hafeez breaks silence over controversial ‘laadla’ remark on BCCI

Games against Australia on September 20, 23, and 25 and South Africa on September 28, October 2 and October 4 are India’s final six T20Is before the World Cup, where the team would look to put up an improved show, having crashed out of the recent T20 Asia Cup in ‘Super 4’ stage.

Former India opener Gautam Gambhir feels the Australia series will play a crucial role prior to the World T20, as the team won’t win the title if they can’t beat the Aaron Finch-led side. He recalled India’s success against Australia in the 2007 World T20 and 2011 ODI World Cup, where they went on to win the trophy.

“I have said this earlier and I am saying this again. India cannot win the (T20) World Cup if they do not beat Australia” Gambhir said during a press conference organised by Star Sports.

“I mean, look at the 2007 T20 World Cup. We defeated them in the semi-finals. In the 2011 ODI World Cup, we thrashed them in the quarter-finals. Australia is one of the most competitive teams out there and you will have to beat them if you want to win any competition,” he added.

Gambhir also shared his views on Virat Kohli’s batting spot and firmly backed KL Rahul for the opening role. Kohli returned to form with the much-awaited 71st hundred in the Asia Cup, where he scored 61-ball 122 while opening against Afghanistan. But Gambhir feels Rahul should be preferred at the top despite his wretched run. In the Asia Cup, Rahul averaged 26.40, scoring just 132 runs from five innings.

“You know what happens in India? The moment someone starts doing very well, for example, when Virat Kohli scored a hundred in the last game, we all start forgetting what Rahul and Rohit have done over a long period of time,” Gambhir said.

Gambhir mentored the Rahul-led Lucknow Super Giants in the IPL earlier this year. He mentioned that the batter should be allowed to play freely.

“When you talk about Kohli opening the batting, imagine what happens to KL Rahul… Imagine the amount of insecurity he (Rahul) must be feeling. Imagine if he gets a low score in the first game, there will be another debate on whether Kohli should open in the next game.”

“Imagine KL Rahul going into the World Cup thinking, ‘what if I don’t score runs against Pakistan? What if I get replaced by Virat Kohli?’ You don’t want that. We should start thinking about how India can flourish, rather than certain individuals,” Gambhir said.

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