Australia will look to dismiss cheaply three of India’s top-order batsmen — Virat Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma — in the One-Day Internationals, captain Aaron Finch has said.

With 1202 runs in 14 matches, Virat Kohli has the highest tally among his batting peers in the last 12 months, averaging 133.55. Rohit Sharma has 1030 in 19 matches, averaging 73.57. Shikhar Dhawan, with 897 runs in 19 matches, averages 49.83.

“Over the last 12 months Virat’s averaged 133, Shikhar 75, and Rohit 50 (sic); so there’s a lot of runs and balls faced from their top three. It’s important to get them as early as you can because once they get in, they score fast and they don’t seem to get out too easily,” Finch said on Friday.

With the success of the top-order, the middle-order comprising M. S. Dhoni has perhaps not been tested enough. “Dinesh Karthik, Kedar Jadhav, Dhoni... these guys that can all play their part as well. The top three are very important but you can’t just look at that otherwise there’s someone else that will catch you off-guard and get the job done as well,” Finch cautioned.

Alex Carey to open

Like India, Australia will kick off its World Cup 2019 preparations in Sydney. The team will have to take a break from the format for a brief while, however, as it hosts Sri Lanka for a Test series.

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The host announced its playing XI for the series opener as per norm, with wicketkeeper-batsman Alex Carey set to open the batting with Finch. The batting runs deep, with Glenn Maxwell at No. 7. Finch said, “It’s just an opportunity to see Alex play in a position he’s done quite bit in Big Bash and one-day cricket. He’s been shuffled around the order a bit in the last little while. We are trying to search for that process and right balance of the side. We’ve got three games here which will be very tough, then straight to India for five ODIs [and] then Pakistan so that’s a very tough 13 games, then a few warm-up and practice games against New Zealand.”


Run machines: Virat Kohli (left) and Shikhar Dhawan have scored 2099 runs for India between them, in the last 12 months. Photo: AP


The absence of the suspended David Warner and Steve Smith has unsettled the Australian batting. “These are still best part of 18 games to get that right. While it would have been great to have a settled side for the last 12-18 months it’s still enough time to get it right and make sure come that World Cup that we are ready to go with a really balanced and settled side,” Finch said.

‘No weak links’

The ODI series is a chance for Australia’s batting line-up to start afresh after its failure in previous outings. Commenting on the absence of India’s fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah, Finch replied, “Bumrah has played a huge part for their one-day side, or all their sides. Bhuvneshwar Kumar is someone who has had success at all levels as well. The two spinners have played a huge role in Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal over the last month as well. There’s no real weak links in their side. They’ve got an extra spin option in the squad with Jadeja, Kedar who can bowl some off-spin.”

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Bumrah has been replaced by Mohammad Siraj. Others in the pace department include Khaleel Ahmed and Mohammed Shami.

‘Plenty of options’

“They (India) have got left, right-arm, spin, leg-spin, off-spin, so they’ve got plenty of options... They play their own conditions very well but I think the amount of times they’re winning away from home in the shorter formats is a credit to them,” Finch said.

Australia has rested its own primary pacers Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood, with old-timer Peter Siddle returning to the side after a gap of eight years. “For Siddle to go away and work on the skills that he’s brought to the table over the last couple of years in Big Bash cricket is outstanding. He probably went with a real red-ball focus for a long time there and probably neglected the one-day skills. Then to come back and have an eight-week period last year where he just focused on skills for the white ball and how quickly he improved was unbelievable,” Finch noted.