India vs Australia, Preview 1st ODI: India Look To start of World Cup Preparation
Indian Cricket team changed their attention to the main one-day event of the year: Mission World Cup.
Distracted by the ongoing controversy relating to the "inappropriate" comments made by Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul, team India will look regain their focus and start their World Cup 2019 preparation as they take on Australia in the first match of the three-match One-day International (ODI) series in Sydney on Saturday.
The team management on Friday did not announce the shortlist for the game and are awaiting the decision on Pandya and Rahul. While Rahul was unlikely to be in the playing XI after a poor form but Pandya's absence will surely dent the team composition.
The contrast was stark in the build-up days with Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli saying it's unlikely they'll be many changes from the squad on show in Australia - Jasprit Bumrah has already been rested for this series, as well as the tour of New Zealand, and this allows the think-tank to conduct one final experimentation with their bowling attack. While Australia captain Aaron Finch confirmed another much-changed XI with new players in new positions and incumbent players taking new roles.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar is a shoe-in, and thereafter it depends if Virat Kohli wants to go in with a three-man pace attack to compensate for Pandya's loss. In such a scenario, Mohammed Shami and Khaleel Ahmed are expected to get the nod, as India continue zeroing on the pace quartet for the World Cup squad.
There is a sprinkling of grass on the SCG pitch and it could push the Indian skipper to opt for a three-pacer and two-spinner combination. Kohli also stated that, in Pandya's absence, Ravindra Jadeja would step up as the all-rounder.
India's ODI record in Australia is quite poor. Apart from the 1985 World Championship and 2008 CB Series wins, they have lost 35 out of 48 ODIs played against Australia on their home soil.
The absence of David Warner (220 runs in three matches in 2016) and Steve Smith (315 runs in five matches in 2016) might help them again though, as also the absence of Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood, with the trio rested from this series.
Australia have named their playing eleven ahead of the first ODI, with Nathan Lyon featuring as the lone spinner and Peter Siddle returning to this format for the first time since 2010.
India: Virat Kohli (c), Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan, Ambati Rayudu, Dinesh Karthik, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Khaleel Ahmed, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj.
Australia (Playing XI): Aaron Finch (c), Alex Carey (wk), Usman Khawaja, Glenn Maxwell, Shaun Marsh, Peter Handscomb, Marcus Stoinis, Nathan Lyon, Peter Siddle, Jhye Richardson, Jason Behrendorff.