India vs Australia WC | Rohit & Co. would be happy to make the first step a winning one

India’s march towards World Cup glory begins as it gears up to take on a flamboyant Australian side; the surface, as evident in games here, is likely to provide assistance to the spinners; both the teams will hope the rain stays away

October 07, 2023 03:50 pm | Updated October 08, 2023 07:37 am IST - Chennai

Captain Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli are seen during a practice session ahead of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 match against Australia in Chennai.

Captain Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli are seen during a practice session ahead of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 match against Australia in Chennai. | Photo Credit: B. Jothi Ramalingam

The World Cup’s much-needed adrenaline shots would be delivered at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium when India takes on Australia in Chennai on October 8. Cricket’s premier championship has moved sedately since New Zealand ambushed England at Ahmedabad on Thursday, but the sporting caravan will definitely gain some zest as the host finally joins the party.

In recent times, India against Australia has been a recurring template. These are the willow game’s coincidences determined by both accessibility and commerce. Just this March, Australia turned up at Chennai and used leg-spinner Adam Zampa to stun the Indians in an ODI and claim that series 2-1.

Even in the latest ODI series in which Rohit Sharma’s men prevailed 2-1, Australia seized the last game. It is a thin line that distinguishes these two outfits that have a history of gladiatorial battles. In the 1987 World Cup fixture at this hallowed venue, India fell short by a mere one run!

Gill doubtful

Cut to the present, Rohit has the probable absence of Shubman Gill to deal with. Whether he would plump for a left-handed ally in Ishan Kishan or prefer K.L. Rahul as his opening partner remains to be seen. The surface as evident in games here and specifically during the IPL’s annual frenzied summer, tends to at times favour the spinners and with Hardik Pandya lending all-round balance and bolstering the seam attack, Rohit hinted that he is not averse to fielding three spinners.

This is R. Ashwin’s second home and Ravindra Jadeja, being one of Chennai Super Kings’ favourite sons, has a local connect. If Kuldeep Yadav is employed too, Australia may have to deal with turgid middle overs besides the testing pace of Jasprit Bumrah upfront. Flamboyance isn’t just an Indian preserve, and this attribute is aplenty within the Aussie ranks. David Warner or a Glenn Maxwell could turn it around while Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne offer both hustle and stability.

Australian players are seen during a practice session ahead of their game against India in Chennai.

Australian players are seen during a practice session ahead of their game against India in Chennai. | Photo Credit: B. Jothi Ramalingam

That old trope of Indian batters combating Australian speedsters would be in vogue with Mitchell Starc’s left-handed angle being an obstacle. In a long league phase, India may hit the odd bump, but Rohit would prefer that the first step is a winning one against Pat Cummins and company. The Indian cricket team just won the gold at the Asian Games while for the senior bunch, the march towards World Cup glory starts now. Hopefully, the rain clouds that serenaded Chennai over the last fortnight, will stay away.

The teams (from):

India: Rohit Sharma (Capt.), K.L. Rahul, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Shubman Gill, Ishan Kishan, Ravindra Jadeja, R. Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Shardul Thakur and Kuldeep Yadav.

Australia: Pat Cummins (Capt.), Steve Smith, David Warner, Sean Abbott, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Marnus Labuschagne, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis and Adam Zampa.

Umpires: Chris Gaffaney and Richard Kettleborough; Third umpire: Chris Brown; Match referee: Richie Richardson.

Match starts at 2 p.m.

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