Kohli and Co are set for the Aussies

Team In­dia is look­ing to be­gin the cru­cial ODI series against Aus­tralia on a win­ning note. But Sun­day’s game in Chen­nai won’t be an easy one.

The Sunday Guardian - - The Big Story -

De­spite steam­rolling Sri Lanka over three cricket for­mats 9-0 in their last tour, In­dia will know all too well that Aus­tralia would be a dif­fer­ent propo­si­tion al­to­gether when the two sides re­new ac­quain­tances in the first of the five- match One-Day In­ter­na­tional (ODI) series at the M.A. Chi­dambaram Sta­dium here on Sun­day.

In­dia were all over the hap­less Sri Lankans in the lat­ter’s own den with­out hav­ing to break sweat. Vi­rat Kohli and Co won all the three Test matches, five ODIs and one T20 in­ter­na­tional to re­turn un­blem­ished.

But in Aus­tralia, the hosts will face stiffer com­pe­ti­tion sim­ply be­cause of the qual­ity of play­ers the vis­i­tors posses.

Even with­out their pace spear­heads Mitchell Starc and Josh Ha­zle­wood, ruled out due to in­juries, the Steve Smith-led side has the likes of Nathan Coul­ter-Nile, Pat Cum­mins, Adam Zampa and Ash­ton Agar to trou­ble the In­dian bats­men.

It won’t be smooth sail­ing for the vis­i­tors, though, by any stretch of imag­i­na­tion.

At home, In­dia have been ram­pant over the last year of so win­ning against New Zealand and Eng­land 3-2 and 2-1 re­spec­tively in the 50-over for­mat.

In­dian batters are been in good form with vet­eran Ma­hen­dra Singh Dhoni also find­ing him­self among runs in Sri Lanka. Not hav­ing Shikhar Dhawan for the three ODIs is a blow as the south­paw has been among runs in all for­mats lately.

Ajinkya Ra­hane is ex­pected to take his place at the top of the or­der along­with opener Ro­hit Sharma. K.L. Rahul is also an op­tion.

For the Aussies, not hav­ing Aaron Finch open­ing the bat­ting with David Warner is not a per­fect ar­range­ment with the dash­ing right-han­der nurs­ing a calf problem. Peter Hand­scomb has been called on to re­place him but Travis Head looks to be the likely part­ner of Warner.

Ahead of the 2019 World Cup in Eng­land, In­dia chief coach Ravi Shas­tri will get to look at his back-up spin op­tions in this series with Ravichan­dran Ash­win and Ravin­dra Jadeja rested.

The likes of chi­na­man Kuldeep Ya­dav, left-arm spin­ner Yuzven­dra Cha­hal and all-rounder Axar Pa­tel would vie for spots in the team.

Kuldeep and Cha­hal have done pretty well in the lim­ited chances that they have got since then and even though there’s a per­cep­tion that wrist-spin­ners can go for runs, the leg­gie has an econ­omy rate of 4.14 and the chi­na­man 3.97 in ODIs.

“I look at them as mys­tery spin­ners. You never know what’s com­ing out of their hand. The cap­tain is com­fort­able to get them into the fray as they can get cru­cial break­throughs we look for­ward to in the mid­dle part of the game,” vice-cap­tain Ro­hit said on Friday.

The Aussies too will rely heav­ily on their tweak­ers to get them the wick­ets. While skip­per Steve Smith has made it am­ply clear that Zampa is a cer­tainty in the play­ing XI, Agar is also tipped to play a part.

The fact that Ker­ala chi­na­man bowler K.K. Jiyas flew in to help the Aussies prac­tice on Friday is a clear in­di­ca­tion of how se­ri­ously the tourists are tak­ing spin.

The Aussies have not played ODIs since the ICC Cham­pi­ons Tro­phy and will look to put aside their dis­ap­point­ing loss to Bangladesh in the first Test in Dhaka. They fought back to tri­umph con­vinc­ingly in the sec­ond rub­ber. The Aussies lost 0-2 in New Zealand in the ODIs be­fore the Cham­pi­ons Tro­phy.

For the Aussies, not hav­ing Aaron Finch open­ing the bat­ting with David Warner is not a per­fect ar­range­ment with the dash­ing right-han­der nurs­ing a calf problem.

THE SQUADS: In­dia:

Vi­rat Kohli (cap­tain), Ro­hit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Man­ish Pandey, Kedar Jad­hav, Ajinkya Ra­hane, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Axar Pa­tel, Kuldeep Ya­dav, Yuzven­dra Cha­hal, Jasprit Bum­rah, Bhu­vnesh­war Ku­mar, Umesh Ya­dav, Mo­hammed Shami.

Steve Smith (cap­tain), David Warner, Ash­ton Agar, Hil­ton Cartwright, Nathan Coul­terNile, Patrick Cum­mins, James Faulkner, Aaron Finch, Josh Ha­zle­wood, Travis Head, Glenn Maxwell, Mar­cus Stoi­nis, Matthew Wade (wk), Adam Zampa. IANS

Aus­tralia:

In­dian crick­eters dur­ing a prac­tice ses­sion in Chen­nai ahead of their clash against Steve Smith’s Aus­tralia.

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