The long-awaited series is finally here. India are set to host the arch-rivals Australia in the 1st ODI at the Chepauk Stadium in Chennai. Whenever these 2 teams go head to head, there is bound to be excitement, sledging is at its maximum and above all, the competition on the field is fierce.
India, after dismantling the Sri Lankans across all formats, have made their way back to the home where they’ll get to face a far stronger Australian side. The hosts have been formidable at home having not lost an ODI series since 2015 when South Africa defeated them 3-2 for the last time. One can expect Virat Kohli & Co. to be ruthless once again.
Australia, on the other hand, have traveled to India from the neighboring country Bangladesh where they suffered perhaps the worst defeat in the history in the first Test. They managed to win the second Test but the wounds of the defeat won’t be healed anytime soon. If Bangladesh were strong in the longest format, expect India to be dominant in the current series.
The last time these 2 teams faced each other in India, it was a sheer run-feast. More than 300 runs were scored in almost all of the innings. The iconic series included some of the historic incidents. Rohit Sharma became the 3rd batsman ever to score an ODI double hundred, Virat Kohli struck the fastest century by an Indian and the hosts chased down scores of 350+ twice. India ended up winning the series 3-2 in the final game.
Shikhar Dhawan has opted to stay out of the first 3 ODIs owing to the illness of his wife. In his absence, Ajinkya Rahane would partner Rohit Sharma who is fresh from a tremendous outing in Sri Lanka. Rohit has happy memories of playing against Australia as he finished as the leading run-getter in the 2013 series.
The skipper Virat Kohli too had a wonderful time in Sri Lanka and he would be the key for India as always. Manish Pandey did well in the couple of innings in the last series and he would be the preferred candidate for the No.4 slot. MS Dhoni defied all odds and remained unbeaten on the Sri Lankan tour but now is the time he will be tested. The all-rounders Kedar Jadhav and Hardik Pandya would play a crucial role against the World Champions.
The bowlers too had a dream run in the last series. Jasprit Bumrah finished as the leading wicket-taker and won the Man of the Series award. Bhuvneshwar Kumar too found form with a fifer in the last match. The spin department poses competition amongst the 3 youngsters. Axar Patel looks a certainty and Kuldeep Yadav might be preferred over Yuzvendra Chahal given the challenge the chinaman posted to the Australians in the Test series earlier this year.
Australia enjoyed a great time in the warm-up match against Board Presidents XI. The 2 mainstays of the batting line-up David Warner and Steve Smith scored half-centuries with Travis Head and Marcus Stoinis also getting to the same landmark. Matthew Wade too chipped in with a late flourish to guide the side to a massive 347.
Warner and Smith finding form ahead of the big contest comes as a great news for the visitors. A lot will rest on these 2 experienced players. They have loads of experience of playing in India as they lead an IPL franchise each. India would need to plan specifically for these two to get an edge ahead.
The bowling unit is missing 2 leading pacers – Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood, due to injuries. In their absence, the onus of the pace department will be on Nathan Coulter-Nile, Pat Cummins, James Faulkner and Kane Richardson. They have 2 quality spinners in the form of Adam Zampa and Ashton Agar that will be crucial for their chances.
Players to watch out for
When India and Australia are up against each other, all eyes are on one man – Virat Kohli. He loves playing against the Aussies for the aggression that the opposition pours at him. He cherishes being put in such situations and the best of the Indian skipper has come when the odds were against him.
The Australian opener is one of the best batsmen going around in the ODI format. He is coming out of a wonderful time in Bangladesh where he scored 2 centuries and won the Man of the Series award. Warner scored an explosive 64 in the warm-up match and if he stays on the park for a substantial amount, he has the capability to run away with the game.
India: Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Virat Kohli (c), Manish Pandey, MS Dhoni (wk), Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah
Australia: David Warner, Hilton Cartwright, Steve Smith, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Travis Head, Matthew Wade (wk), Nathan Coulter-Nile, Kane Richardson, Adam Zampa, Pat Cummins