Eleven months ago, when Australia landed in India, they were like wounded buffaloes. The men in yellow were still coming to terms with their two key batsmen serving a year-long ban. Their captain Aaron Finch was struggling for runs, mainly facing hardships against the ball nipping back in from fast bowlers. Also, the reigning world champions had won only four out of their last 24 ODIs and suffered a series defeat to India back home just before this.
It needed a turnaround like rarely witnessed to win a five-match series after trailing by 0-2. And Australia produced precisely that. Aaron Finch’s men won the next three and claimed the One-day trophy to hand India their first loss in ODI series at home since 2015. It was an Aussie team bereft of Steven Smith, David Warner, Mitchell Starc, and Josh Hazlewood.
But the quartet is a part of the forthcoming leg. Those along with another potential star in the making, Marnus Labuschagne strengthens the hope that the tourists can score back to back series victory against India at their fortress. If there is any flaw in this squad, it is the absence of a pace-bowling all-rounder to facilitate more penetration.
Amid all this, the visitors don’t have any overwhelming reason to consider themselves as favourites. India will give Australia plenty to worry about. For starters, they are tough to beat at home. The men in blue can also take heart from the fact that they defeated a full-strength Australia in the 2019 World Cup at the Oval.
Rohit Sharma, who had a stellar 2019 in ODIs, loves playing against Australia and would be returning to the fold after a short break. KL Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan, both of who are vying for the second opener’s spot, have been in good touch. And then there is Virat Kohli, who is the biggest thorn in their way.
Jasprit Bumrah would be making his comeback to the One-day side to rediscover his demonic ability, part of which was seen in the T20 series against Sri Lanka. The unknown faces from the Australian perspective in Shardul Thakur and Navdeep Saini have been making rapid strides to cement a permanent position.
However, their new look middle-order needs testing and this series could determine how it may shape up in the future. Also, the spinners require proving their effectualness post a mediocre show against West Indies. To summarise, both sides would take each other to their limits in all the facets and they may need just that after enjoying a near-perfect series of games before this.
Rohit Sharma suffered an injury to his thumb on Sunday during a practice session. However, he is expected to feature in the game. Even though KL Rahul has been in magnificent touch, he is likely to make way for Shikhar Dhawan as Rohit’s opening partner since India would prefer a left-right combination. Furthermore, the pair has enjoyed plenty of success at the top of the order in white-ball cricket.
The return of Jasprit Bumrah means that Navdeep Saini may miss out from the playing eleven. Shardul Thakur and Mohammed Shami are anticipated to partner Bumrah in the pace department. It would also be interesting to see whether the think-tank would prefer Kuldeep Yadav or Yuzvendra Chahal as their wrist spinning option.
Predicted XI: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli(c), Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant(wk), Kedar Jadhav/Shivam Dube, Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Shami, Kuldeep Yadav/Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah
The Men in Blue will have to face an uphill task to endure a formidable bowling force comprising the trio of Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood. Adam Zampa, who on his day, can wreak havoc on the opposition with his leg-spin, will be eager to redeem himself on the Indian soil after World Cup failure.
Along with Steve Smith and David Warner, Marnus Labuschagne will also be eager to prove his mettle on the Indian soil. While he has been unstoppable in Test cricket so far, the South African-born also fared well in the Marsh One-day Cup, averaging over 60 for Queensland. The inclusion of Labuschagne also gives them an extra bowling option. After breaking into the Australian Test side, Labuschagne has climbed up to emerge as one of the best red-ball batsmen across the globe. Furthermore, wicketkeeper Alex Carey has also showed glimpses of his potential in the ongoing BBL 2019-20.
Predicted XI: David Warner, Aaron Finch (C), Steve Smith, Marnus Labuschagne, Peter Handscomb, Alex Carey (WK), Ashton Agar, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Adam Zampa, Josh Hazlewood
Focus will be on:
Jasprit Bumrah (India)
Jasprit Bumrah hasn’t played an ODI since India’s semi-final exit in the 2019 World Cup. His return to national colours in the second T20 in Indore against Sri Lanka was a tad patchy; however, he hit the stride in the next game. As India’s pace spearhead, the lanky pacer will have a point to prove after missing out on a long season. An injury-free and a fruitful series against Australia will also keep Bumrah in good stead ahead of a long tour of New Zealand.
Aaron Finch (Australia)
It was in Ranchi last year that Aaron Finch played a career-saving knock of 93 from where Australia won three ODIs on the bounce to complete a series win. It was after a string of low scores and captaincy struggles, the dark tunnel from where he successfully fought his way through.
The skipper finds himself in a similar position after Melbourne Renegades lost seven games in a row in this edition of BBL under him. Finch’s own form with the bat has been inconsistent as well. The likes of Steven Smith and David Warner will undoubtedly be under the spotlight, but as the leader, it would be interesting to see how Finch produces the runs and marshalls his troops.
Head to Head:
Played – 137 | Australia won – 77 | India won – 50 | No result – 10
10 – David Warner needs ten runs to get to 5000 ODI runs.
56 – Rohit Sharma requires 56 runs to reach 9000 ODI runs.
Among the current crop from both sides, Rohit Sharma holds the record for most runs in India-Australia ODIs with 2037 runs in 37 games.
Aaron Finch has captained Australia in 28 ODIs so far. One more match as captain will bring him in level with George Bailey, who has captained the national side in 29 fixtures.
TV – Star Sports 1, Star Sports 1 HD
Live Streaming – Hotstar
Match Timings – 1:30 pm local (IST), 7:00 pm (Australia)
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