SHIKHAR DHAWAN TO MISS FIRST THREE ONE­DAY­ERS AGAINST AUS­TRALIA

Scales are tilted to­wards In­dia, but this Aus­tralian team has un­der­gone sig­nif­i­cant trans­for­ma­tion since In­dia last won at home

Hindustan Times (Gurgaon) - - News - Somshu­vra Laha sports­desk@hin­dus­tan­times.com

IN­DIA VS AUS­TRALIA 2 days to go

CHENNAI: The bore­dom and fa­tigue that had set in while watch­ing Sri Lanka’s ab­ject sur­ren­der to In­dia across three for­mats should wear away with the first ODI se­ries In­dia play at home against Aus­tralia since 2013. Yes, it has been that long.

Thanks to a choc-a-bloc cal­en­dar that saw In­dia play two ICC events be­fore be­ing con­sumed by a long Test sea­son at home meant they haven’t played too many block­buster ODIs at home bar­ring a South Africa se­ries.

Level on rat­ing points and ranked sec­ond and third re­spec­tively by the ICC in ODIs, Aus­tralia and In­dia should be itch­ing to get ahead of each other.

That alone should make for a very com­pet­i­tive se­ries be­sides the ob­vi­ous brag­ging rights on of­fer.

Both teams how­ever have un­der­gone sig­nif­i­cant trans­for­ma­tion since In­dia won the last home ODI se­ries against Aus­tralia 3-2.

MS Dhoni was the undis­puted cap­tain then and Suresh Raina his deputy. Yu­vraj Singh was still thriv­ing while R Ash­win and Ravin­dra Jadeja were Dhoni’s go-to men. Aus­tralia too have un­der­gone a mas­sive makeover. Phil Hughes, who had played the last ODI in Ban­ga­lore, is sadly no more.

Ge­orge Bailey, then cap­tain, hasn’t been in the frame for some time now. Steve Smith, who didn’t even make the squad in that se­ries, is the un­ques­tioned leader now.

BIG­GEST DIF­FER­ENCE

But the big­gest dif­fer­ence be­tween then and now is how de­spite look­ing weak on pa­per, Aus­tralia, maybe, are far from it. All thanks to the In­dian Premier League. Out of the 14 named in the Aus­tralia squad for the ODI se­ries against In­dia, only lef­t­arm spin­ner Ash­ton Agar and all­rounder Hil­ton Cartwright haven’t played the IPL.

Oth­ers have ex­pe­ri­ence vary­ing from 114 matches (David Warner) to only three for Matthew Wade who turned out for Delhi Dare­dev­ils in 2011.

Apart from know­ing the ground fa­cil­i­ties to even what to or­der from the near­est restau­rant, the IPL ex­pe­ri­ence has al­lowed the play­ers not to be over­awed by the hot and hu­mid wel­come in Chennai.

Un­like many pre­vi­ous tour­ing Aus­tralian teams, this one straight­away got down to work.

THOUGH TO CALL

In­dia, be­ing masters of the game at their back­yard, may not be too alarmed by this par­tic­u­lar se­lec­tion of play­ers.

Man to man, the scales still per­haps tilt slightly in their favour but Aus­tralia pos­sess su­perb com­peti­tors in ev­ery depart­ment (see box).

This team may look young with a not-so-threat­en­ing bowl­ing line-up but it sure packs plenty of ex­pe­ri­ence.

AFP

Aus­tralia play­ers take part in a train­ing ses­sion ahead of the ODI se­ries which be­gins in Chennai from Sun­day. Aus­tralia will play five ODIs and three T20Is.

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