India are all set to take on Australia in a three-match ODI series beginning Tuesday. The two former world champions are always keen rivals on the 22 yards and it was India who had prevailed over the Kangaroos when they had last met in the ICC World Cup 2019. It was a fascinating century from opener Shikhar Dhawan that gave India a 36-run win. Dhawan, however, suffered a broken thumb in that game as well to go out of the showpiece event.
Seven months since then, the two teams are set to meet each other and two of their star attractions in this series will be India captain Virat Kohli and Australia’s former skipper, Steve Smith. Both the players had hit half-centuries in that World Cup game and would like to make the upcoming series memorable as well. Smith trails Kohli in the ICC batting rankings in all the three formats with the closest gap being in the long format where Kohli is No.1 and Smith is No.2.
While the debate continues over who is the best among the two top batsmen of the current era, former India opener Gautam Gambhir’s vote has gone to his compatriot in white-ball cricket.
“Virat Kohli is far far better than Steve Smith in white-ball cricket. There’s no comparison. I would not compare Kohli to Smith in white-ball cricket. I would actually want to see what spot Smith bats on,” Gambhir told the host broadcasters on the eve of the first match (day-night) in Mumbai. While Kohli is ranked No.1 in the ODIs, too, but Smith is placed at No.27, the Indian batsman is even far ahead in the T20Is where he is ranked ninth and Smith 75th.
Eyes will also be on Marnus Labuschagne to perform against India
However, irrespective of their batting rivalry, the clash at the World Cup had also witnessed a great camaraderie. During the game at the Oval, as the Indian fans were booing Smith over his involvement in the sandpapergate scandal, Kohli came to his rescue and gestured his disappointment at the spectators asking them why they were after the Australian. Smith had on the occasion acknowledged Kohli’s sportsmanship.
Eyes will also be on Marnus Labuschagne who is in a superhuman Test form at the moment. The right-hand batsman is yet to play white-ball cricket for Australia will make his debut on Monday and Gambhir was curious to see where the visitors will fit him in the batting order since both he and Smith like to bat at No.3.
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