Australia, riding the crest of a wave with its Twenty20 series victory, holds the edge as it takes on India in the first of five One-Day International (ODIs) at the Rajiv Gandhi International stadium on Saturday.
The venue is a lucky one for the visiting team — it secured victory in both the ODIs it played here, in 2007 and 2009.
Virat Kohli & Co. will, however, be keen to disallow their opponents from gaining their first series win in the format since January, 2017. After a brief warm-up on Friday, Kohli and his Indian batsmen headed into the nets and batted with purpose. In an hardworking batting session, opener Rohit Sharma, who was rested for the final Twenty20 in Bengaluru, took throwdowns from batting coach Sanjay Bangar.
K. L. Rahul, Ravindra Jadeja and the captain Kohli took turns to face both spinners and fast bowlers. While Rohit exhibited deft touches, Kohli drove the pacers down the ground and occasionally lofted the spinners.
For India, this series also serves as the final chance to firm up the team combinations for the World Cup. All eyes will be on Rahul, Rishabh Pant, Vijay Shankar and Siddarth Kaul as they attempt to clinch the two available spots.
Rahul, who was off-colour in the tour of Australia, is back in form, scoring 50 and 47 in the first two Twenty20s in February. At the nets, he faced spinners and fast bowlers before shuffling across to face throwdowns. The team management might just give him a longer rope in the ODIs.
Although Kohli has hinted the ‘experimentation’ will continue, it is unlikely that key players will be rested. Spinners Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal, and fast bowlers Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah are sure to be in the Playing XI. The likes of Ambati Rayudu, M. S. Dhoni and Kedar Jadhav form a strong middle-order and Jadhav’s side-arm action could trouble the Australians.
Shaun Marsh ruled out
For Australia, captain Aaron Finch’s poor form is a worry. Barring Glenn Maxwell, the rest of the batting has looked brittle. Wicketkeeper Alex Carey, who played no part in the Twenty20s, is all set to play in the first ODI.
Batsman Shaun Marsh, also an addition to the team, will miss the upcoming contest due to hamstring; the left-hander comes to India after being with his wife for the birth of his second child. D’Arcy Short, on the other hand, flies back to Australia after playing the two Twenty20s.
Spinners Nathan Lyon and Adam Zampa will look to tie down the Indian batsmen but it remains to be seen what the track offers on Saturday.
- India: Virat Kohli (c), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Ambati Rayudu, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wk), Kedar Jadhav, Vijay Shankar, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Rishabh Pant, Siddarth Kaul, K. L. Rahul, Ravindra Jadeja.
- Australia: Aaron Finch (c), D’Arcy Short, Shaun Marsh, Marcus Stoinis, Usman Khawaja, Alex Carey, Peter Handscomb, Ashton Turner, Adam Zampa, Jason Behrendorff, Jhye Richardson, Pat Cummins, Andrew Tye, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Nathan Lyon.
- Match Starts at 1:30 PM.
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