Sydney Cricket Ground
January 12, Saturday; 07:50 IST
Live on SPN, streaming on SonyLiv
The main picture
The stage is set for a close-to-a-full-strength India to begin their World preparation in earnest after a historic Test series triumph Down Under. This is the first of three ODI series for India leading up to the World Cup and the first of two against Australia, who travel to India in late February for a two-match T20I and five-match ODI series.
India are easily the most settled of the two teams, both in terms of the squad and the playing XI. India’s top three in their ODI XI—Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli—are more than capable of winning matches on their own. India’s only real problem of late has been MS Dhoni’s struggles as a middle-order batsman, with his inability to rotate strike and play the big shots in the death overs allowing opposition teams to strangle India on those days when the top three are dismissed cheaply and early.
Australia weren’t able to make a fresh start when the series against India began in late November 2018, after the sandpaper gate last March. But they desperately need a fresh, fast start to potentially build momentum towards the quadrennial event starting in May. Australia’s poor batting performance during the Test series threw the spotlight on the selection policy, while Nathan Coulter-Nile and Ashton Agar have shown their displeasure at being axed from the ODI squad and being given vague messages about it. This does not bode well for a team who will begin their World Cup defence in England in a little more than four months’ time.
India are undoubtedly the team high on confidence and their morale high. And unless the home team get off to a positive start, India will be difficult to stop.
Sydney Cricket Ground pitch report and weather forecast
The pitch for the New Year’s Test last week was very good for batting and its nature is unlikely to change for the first ODI.
Saturday is forecast to be “mostly sunny”, with a high of 31 degree Celsius.
India vs Australia 4th ODI playing 11
Confirmed Australia playing XI: 1 Aaron Finch (c), 2 Usman Khawaja, 3 Shaun Marsh, 4 Glenn Maxwell, 5 Marcus Stoinis, 6 Peter Handscomb, 7 Alex Carey (wk), 8 Jhye Richardson, 9 Peter Siddle, 10 Nathan Lyon, 11 Jason Behrendorff
Probable India playing XI: 1 Virat Kohli (c), 2 Rohit Sharma, 3 Shikhar Dhawan, 4 Ambati Rayudu, 5 MS Dhoni (wk), 6 Kedar Jadhav, 7 Hardik Pandya/Ravindra Jadeja, 8 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 9 Kuldeep Yadav, 10 Yuzvendra Chahal, 11 Khaleel Ahmed
The battle between India’s top three and the Australian bowling attack will be fascinating to watch. Whoever wins it, will likely tilt the balance of the match in their team’s favour.