INDIA, AUSTRALIA BEGIN RACE FOR TOP SPOT IN ODI RANKINGS
With an eye on the top spot in ODI rankings, India and Australia enter a five-match ODI series on Sunday. HT looks at the players who will be key for their respective teams.
India face Australia in a five-match ODI series beginning today. Apart from providing a platform to teams to try out combinations in the lead up to the World Cup two years later, the series offers an opportunity to stake claim for the top place in ODI rankings. South Africa lead the table with 119 points while India and Australia are locked at 117. A convincing win for either will leapfrog them to the top spot.
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KOHLI v SMITH
Virat Kohli is averaging a staggering 92.45 after 18 ODIs this year, and the Steve Smith-led Australia face a monumental task against the India captain in the upcoming series. Smith will have to get into the same mode that he was in the Test series earlier this year in order to stop the Indian juggernaut.
ROHIT v WARNER
Rohit Sharma is averaging over 75 in ODIs this year, and the series presents him with another opportunity to improve further. David Warner is coming off a successful tour of Bangladesh with two fabulous hundreds, and the onus will be on him to provide brisk starts in absence of Aaron Finch.
PANDEY v HEAD
It is a battle between players aiming to cement their spots. While Manish Pandey has shown promise at No 4 at a time when India are weighing options, Australia have tried several batsmen so far. Travis Head or Peter Handscomb will be tested at No 4. Head may get in ahead of Handscomb with his spin bowling skills.
PANDYA v MAXWELL
Hardik Pandya and Glenn Maxwell are aggressive stroke-players, and have shown great form in recent matches. As far as bowling is concerned, medium-pacer Pandya may come across as a better wicket-taking option than off-spinner Maxwell, who has not bowled a great deal in ODIs of late.
UMESH v CUMMINS
Umesh Yadav and Pat Cummins can change the course of games with early breakthroughs. Umesh, who is coming off a break, has been a consistent performer for India in this format. On the other hand, Cummins would aim to make the most of the absence of Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood.