An in-form India will take on Australia in the first ODI of the five-match series at Chennai on Sunday. Virat Kohli and his men are on a roll, coming off a 9-0 tour whitewash against Sri Lanka across formats. They will look to continue the winning run. But Australia will be tough competitor even at Indian pitches. Australia are coming off a 1-1 drawn Test series against Bangladesh. They will look to win the series to take revenge of the 1-2 Test series loss to India early this year. Cricwizz takes a look at the strengths and weaknesses of the two teams ahead of India vs Australia first ODI at Chennai.
Winning momentum: India are on a roll, winning six ODI matches on a row. They whitewashed Sri Lanka 5-0 in the ODI series and completely outplayed the islanders across all departments. India would carry forward that momentum in the ODI series against Australia and would look to bag another series in their kitty. At home conditions, India are favourites against the Aussies in the ODI series.
Batting-heavy line-up: India boast of one of the best batting line-ups in the world in limited-overs cricket. India will miss Shikhar Dhawan who has opted out due to personal reasons. However, it provides a good opportunity for Ajinkya Rahane to cement his place at the top of the order. Then, India have the ever-consistent Virat Kohli, followed by Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav and born-again MS Dhoni. If India go with Hardik Pandya, they will have a batting line-up to die for.
Complacency: It’s a fact that India faced a below-par and weak Sri Lanka line-up who were just not good enough for Kohli and his men in the series. But Australia will be a different customer. They will grab any window of opportunity and will dictate terms on the opposition. Hence, India have to ward of any complacency that may creep into their line-up thanks to their comprehensive win over Sri Lanka.
India squad: Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Lokesh Rahul, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, Ajinkya Rahane, MS Dhoni, Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, YS Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami
IPL experience: At least seven of the Australian players in the current squad have IPL experience. Three of these players – David Warner, Steven Smith, Glenn Maxwell – lead IPL teams. Hence, this experience will provide them a good opportunity to turn the tables on India. Other players such as Nathan Coulter-Nile, Travis Head have had a fruitful 2017 IPL and they will look to bank on this experience to give India a tough fight in the series.
Batting firepower: In David Warner, Steven Smith, Glenn Maxwell, Australia have a batting firepower that can destroy any opposition. They also have a hard-hitting batsman in Marcus Stoinis who announced his arrival with a blazing century against New Zealand recently. Travis Head will count on his RCB experience to come good in the series. Then there is James Faulkner who always reserves his best for India.
Crumbling under pressure: Australia have the tendency to disintegrate under pressure. They lost a close Test match against Bangladesh, but came back strongly to level the series. They will face unrelenting pressure from Indian batsmen and bowlers. Will they crumble or come out stronger in adverse conditions? The limited-overs series will test Australia’s character.
Australia squad: Steven Smith, Ashton Agar, Hilton Cartwright, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Glenn Maxwell, James Faulkner, Mathew Wade, Pat Cummins, Travis Head, Marcus Stoinis, Adam Zampa, Kane Richardson, Peter Handscomb.
Prediction: India will be tough customer in home conditions. Australia will rely on their IPL experience to come good in the series. India will look to be ruthless against an opposition with whom they have had a bitterly fought Test series early this year. It’s going to be one roller-coaster ride in the ODI series. Our vote goes to India in the first ODI at Chennai.