Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, Uppal, Hyderabad
March 2, Saturday; 13:30 IST
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The main picture
Since the last edition of the Cricket World Cup, which was played in Australia in early 2015, India have lost only one ODI series and two Twenty20 International series (with the 2-0 defeat to Australia on this tour) at home. Whichever way you look at it, India’s home record (including in the Test format) has been excellent in the last four years, albeit they failed to make the most of home advantage at the ICC World T20 2016.
So, losing to an under-strength Australian team comes as a shock. On the plus side, KL Rahul has hit the ground running on his return to the national team, Virat Kohli got himself a big score in the second match and Jasprit Bumrah provided a reminder of why he is the best fast bowler in limited-overs cricket currently. And you can expect these three players to be heavily involved in the ODI series starting tomorrow, with India attempting to cap off their World Cup preparation on a positive note.
Rishabh Pant and Vijay Shankar are the two other players, along with Rahul, who have the opportunity to bat their way into India’s World Cup squad, which only has a couple of vacant spots. How India strike the right balance to their playing 11 in trying to accommodate the players in the running for the World Cup places is an aspect to watch out for.
Though the format is different, Australia will carry the confidence of winning the T20I series to the ODI series. Glenn Maxwell made an aggregate of 169 runs in the two matches and being pushed up to No. 4 brought the best out of him. He paced his innings beautifully on both occasions and, in Bengaluru, made up for the failure to finish off Australia’s pursuit of 127 in Visakhapatnam with an unbeaten 113. The contest between Maxwell and Yuzvendra Chahal in the Bengaluru T20I was gripping to watch and may shape the result of the ODI series if India pick Chahal in their XI and Australia persist with Maxwell at No. 4.
Aaron Finch’s lack of form has been a major worry for Australia since India set foot Down Under in November last year. Australia coach Justin Langer has spoken about being patient with ODI captain Finch. “He’s [Aaron Finch] such a good player, such a good person, captain of the team, we know he’ll come good,” Langer told cricket.com.au. Finch has 10 ODIs before the World Cup to sort out the issue he has with the ball that nips back into him and get runs under his belt.
Three of Australia’s four fast bowlers in the squad for the ODI series—Jhye Richardson, Jason Behrendorff and Nathan Coulter-Nile—are competing for the fourth bowler’s spot in Australia’s World Cup squad. So, much like India, the Australian think-tank has a job in its hands to get the balance of the bowling attack and playing XI right.
Pitch report and weather forecast
The pitch at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium has traditionally been good for batting in ODI cricket. At this stage of the domestic season, the pitch here might be a little dry and the spinners will play a major role. With the potential for dew, these two teams are likely to want to bowl first and give their tweakers the best conditions to operate in.
The forecast says that the weather will be clear with a maximum of 32 degree Celsius.
India vs Australia 1st ODI playing 11
Possible India playing XI: 1 Virat Kohli (c), 2 Rohit Sharma, 3 Shikhar Dhawan, 4 KL Rahul/Ambati Rayudu, 5 MS Dhoni (wk), 6 Rishabh Pant, 7 Kedar Jadhav, 8 Vijay Shankar, 9 Mohammed Shami, 10 Jasprit Bumrah, 11 Yuzvendra Chahal/Kuldeep Yadav
Possible Australia playing XI: 1 Aaron Finch (c), 2 Alex Carey (wk), 3 Ashton Turner, 4 Usman Khawaja, 5 Glenn Maxwell, 6 Peter Handscomb, 7 Marcus Stoinis, 8 Pat Cummins, 9 Adam Zampa, 11 Jason Behrendorff, 11 Jhye Richardson
India have Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami, who will be lethal regardless of the pitch conditions; Australia have Cummins, Behrendorff and Jhye Richardson, while Adam Zampa for the visitor and Chahal or Kuldeep for the host carry a wicket-taking in the middle phase (overs 11 to 40) of the innings. With such ammunition in both bowling attacks, the batting line-ups have the onus on them to make the difference.