Cricket

1st ODI preview: It’s time to sit up when the world’s best face off

Mumbai,13/01/2020: India captain Virat Kohli at the practice session at Wankhede stadium ahead of One Day International match against Australia, on Monday.

Mumbai,13/01/2020: India captain Virat Kohli at the practice session at Wankhede stadium ahead of One Day International match against Australia, on Monday.   | Photo Credit: Vivek Bendre

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Kohli may bat at No. 4 to accommodate Rohit, Dhawan and Rahul; Aussie pace battery on at full power

At a time when bilateral cricket is jostling for relevance, sandwiched between the countdown to the T20 World Cup and the World Test Championship is a three-match ODI series between India and Australia, which starts at the Wankhede Stadium on Tuesday.

But, how relevant is relevance in the larger context, when the world’s best two teams square off!

At full strength

Also, the fact that both teams are at full-strength is great news for aficionados and connoisseurs alike.

India captain Virat Kohli has no doubt there will be no dearth of intense action.

“When you are playing Australia, you don’t look at the relevance of the series. It’s about playing against the best. The way they are playing now, after Steve and David have come back, it’s pretty intense,” Kohli said.

Watch | The rise of Marnus Labuschagne
 

“They are challenging every team and they are dominating a few teams as well. I think India and Australia are probably the top two sides in the world, as far as balance is concerned. Whether it’s relevant or irrelevant that’s for people to decide. But we as a team are excited to play Australia, in our conditions, to test ourselves against the best.”

India has a tough choice to make when it comes to batting order, with all three specialist openers in sublime touch.

While batting coach Vikram Rathour had said on Sunday either Shikhar Dhawan or K.L. Rahul would start the series along with Rohit Sharma, Kohli contradicted this stating the three could well feature in the starting line-up. In such a scenario, Kohli may move down to No. 4 from his customary No. 3.

Kohli was at his best during Monday’s training, prevailing over Jasprit Bumrah in a mini-battle during optional practice and also celebrating it in style.

Australia, on the other hand, will be keen on unleashing its lethal pace trio of Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood on India’s famed batting order.

Set to play an ODI together for the first time since October 2018, the troika will be looking forward to starting Australia’s maiden ODI assignment since the World Cup with a bang at the Wankhede.

At the same time, Australia will be banking on Marnus Labuschagne to carry his Test exploits into the ODI arena. If Labuschagne marks his debut by complementing veterans Steve Smith and David Warner on Tuesday, Aaron Finch’s men can hope for an encore of its series victory last year.

Despite not travelling with its best combination, Finch and Co. made a stunning comeback after trailing 2-0 to take home the series 3-2 in India last March. India will know that to avenge that series defeat, it will have to play out of its skins over the next week.

If the series-opener ends up a high-quality affair, the series will not at all struggle for relevance.

Squads:

India: Virat Kohli (Captain), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, K L Rahul, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, Rishabh Pant (Wicket-keeper), Shivam Dube, Ravindra Jadeja, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Navdeep Saini, Jasprit Bumrah, Shardul Thakur and Mohammed Shami.

Australia: Aaron Finch (Captain), Alex Carey (Wicket-keeper), Patrick Cummins, Ashton Agar, Peter Handscomb, Josh Hazlewood, Marnus Labuschange, Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Ashton Turner, David Warner and Adam Zampa.

Match starts at 1.30.

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2020 7:26:07 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/cricket/india-vs-australia-first-odi-mumbai-wankhede-stadium-match-preview/article30556207.ece

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