India ready for titanic ODI clash with Australia, but sadly it's just a three-match series
Two of the best teams in the world face off in Mumbai on Tuesday
The two best teams in the game face off in a three-match ODI series and the biggest question on everyone’s mind is – why just the three games?
India play Australia in the first ODI in Mumbai on Tuesday with both sides coming in with nearly full-strength squads. Some of the finest players of this generation will be on the field and both sides will look to hit the ground running as there will be hardly any time to stage a comeback in a three-game encounter.
India are arguably the best all-round all-format team in the world at the moment, although Australia don’t seem too far behind. But unlike their stellar record in Test matches, India's results in limited overs clashes at home aren’t exactly gold standard.
The Aussies defeated India 3-2 in their previous bilateral ODI encounter in south Asia in 2019, despite falling 0-2 behind. The Indians had to fight tooth and nail to defeat West Indies 2-1 in their 50-over clash last month. Add hard-fought 2-1 T20 series wins over Bangladesh and West Indies in the last two months to the list and it's clear Virat Kohli’s team are not invincible in white-ball cricket at home.
Aaron Finch steered the men in green and gold to victory in India last year and this time he arrives with Steve Smith and David Warner added to an already strong unit. In-form batsman Marnus Labuschagne has been given a chance to bring his red-hot Test form in the limited overs arena while Test quicks Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood will lead one the strongest pace attacks to visit the country.
The hosts match the Aussies pound for pound. A world-class top four of Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Kohli and KL Rahul – the India captain hinted at having Dhawan and Rahul both in the playing XI – a potent pace attack comprising of Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Navdeep Saini and Shardul Thakur, plus quality spinners in the form of Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav and Ravindra Jadeja will make the job of the management that much harder while deciding the playing XI.
Australia and India train at the Wankhede
Captain Kohli expects a tough series between two evenly matched teams.
“It is always 3-2, 2-1 kind of series,” Kohli said on Monday.
“Having played a lot against each other, we know the strengths and weaknesses of either side. So it’s always good and a tough challenge playing Australia purely because of the skill set and mindset they bring on to the field.
“The way they are playing their cricket now after Steve (Smith) and David (Warner) have come back, it’s pretty intense. They are challenging every team, they are dominating a few teams as well. So I think, we along with Australia are probably the top two sides in the world as far as balance is concerned.”
This will be Australia’s first ODI assignment since the World Cup semi-final loss to England, having spent most of the Australian summer inflicting heavy defeats on Pakistan and New Zealand.
Kohli said the hosts will need to be on top of their game in every match.
“As players we are excited to play a full strength Australia in our conditions, also to test ourselves against the best,” said Kohli.
“In the year of the World Cup as many games as we play together as a team, it’s going to benefit us, especially the white-ball cricket.”
Dew is likely to be a factor at the Wankhede Stadium with the team that wins the toss most likely to prefer chasing. Australia trained with wet balls on Sunday to get accustomed to the playing conditions. They have arrived in India fully prepared. Unfortunately, it’s just for three matches.
Updated: January 13, 2020 04:27 PM