Preview - First ODI - India vs Australia

It is not for the first time that Australia are completing a tour of India in multiple trips. Talking about Australia's visits to India in the past decade, they played a seven-match ODI series in 2007. In the following year, they played a four-match Test series. The Aussies featured in another seven-match ODI series in 2009.
In 2010, they visited India for a short tour, i.e., two Test matches and three ODIs, out of which two ODIs were abandoned without a ball being bowled. In February-March 2013, they played a four-match Test series on the Indian soil. They returned back in October to play a one-off T20I and seven ODIs. Perhaps, their itinerary of 2017 was made on similar grounds. A four-match Test series in February-March, followed by a five-match ODI series and a three-match T20I series in September-October.
Australia beat Pakistan 4-1 in ODIs this year (in January). However, they haven't won a match in the same format since then. Playing an ODI series against India in India with such a form behind them is no mean task. Having defeated the Indian Board President's XI by 103 runs in the warm-up encounter, they would have gained back some confidence.

Given their all-round abilities, Head and Maxwell would
play a big role for Australia.
India, on the other hand, were invincible during their previous assignment in international cricket. With the quality of cricket that they have played in the past year, they have become a colossus in the international arena. Be that as it may, the last bilateral series which India lost was against none other, but, Australia, in January 2016.
As far as the team for the first three ODI is concerned, India have made a solitary change to the squad which toured Sri Lanka. Shardul Thakur, who made his ODI debut on that tour, has been replaced by Umesh Yadav and Mohammad Shami. Shikhar Dhawan will miss the first three ODIs as he tends to his ill wife. In his absence, Ajinkya Rahane is likely to open the innings alongside his Mumbai teammate and the vice-captain of the India's limited-overs team, Rohit Sharma.
Manish Pandey and Kedar Jadhav, both of whom scored individual half-centuries against Sri Lanka, are likely to keep their middle order spots. Meanwhile, Lokesh Rahul will continue to warm the bench, at least, in the first part of the series. MS Dhoni, who has got out only once in his last 10 ODIs still remains an important cog in the wheel for India. Since he has stepped down as captain of the limited-overs team, he has averaged a whopping 91.33 in 18 ODIs.
Given his recent form, Jasprit Bumrah should be a clear-cut name in the playing eleven. It will be interesting to see if Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who picked up a career-best 5-42 in the last match against Sri Lanka, is included in the playing eleven ahead of Umesh Yadav or Shami. With Hardik Pandya available as the third-seamer, India are unlikely to play more than two specialist fast bowlers.
Axar Patel has it in him to dry up the runs in the middle overs, a quality which will come in handy for captain Virat Kohli in the Indian conditions. Being the only finger-spinner in he squad, Axar Patel was a sure starter. It is reported that he has suffered a minor niggle during warm-up. Will it force him to sit out for tomorrow's fixture, only time will tell. Both Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav impressed during the Sri Lanka series. In Patel's absence, both India might have to field both its wrist spinners.
Australia would have been jostled by the sidelining of Aaron Finch for the first half of the series due to a calf injury. His replacement, Peter Handscomb, should walk in automatically into the middle order. In Finch's absence, Travis Head is the likeliest of the batsmen to open the innings alongside David Warner.

Will Australia be able to sneak past the Indian brains in their
own backyard?
In Glenn Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis, Australia have two tempestuous middle-order batsmen. On their individual day, both of them have it in them to change the course of the game. Both of them can contribute with the ball and are agile movers in the field. Considering its all-round potential, this duo can turn out to be fruitful in the Indian conditions.
Australia might have to do some pondering as far as their bowling combination is pertained. The primary point of discussion would be the number of spinners in the playing eleven. In Head and Maxwell, Australia have two batsmen who bowl a decent brand of off-spin. Adam Zampa would be the ideal man to complement this duo on Indian pitches.
Australia's strength is their fast bowlers and they should not be on the horns of a dilemma to field three of them tomorrow. One out of Pat Cummins, James Faulkner, Nathan Coulter-Nile and Kane Richardson will have to face the axe for the first match.
The last Australia played India in a bilateral series in India, in the five completed matches, the 300-run mark was crossed a gross nine out of 10 times. In 2016, when India toured Australia for a bilateral series, the same mark was ranged over eight out of 10 times. The only time teams scored less than 300 runs in an innings was when Australia had to and did chase a target of 296 runs in the third ODI at Melbourne. Consequently, it wouldn't be wrong to say that this series might also witness scores of large amount. In that situation, the onus would automatically fall heavily on the bowlers from both the sides.

Expected Playing Eleven:

India - 1) Rohit Sharma 2) Ajinkya Rahane 3) Virat Kohli (c) 4) Manish Pandey 5) Kedar Jadhav 6) MS Dhoni (wk) 7) Hardik Pandya 8) Bhuvneshwar Kumar 9) & 10) Axar Patel/Yuzvendra Chahal/Kuldeep Yadav 11) Jasprit Bumrah

Australia - 1) David Warner 2) Travis Head 3) Steven Smith (c) 4) Peter Handcomb 5) Glenn Maxwell 6) Marcus Stoinis 7) Matthew Wade (wk) 8) James Faulkner 9) Pat Cummins 10) Adam Zampa 11) Nathan Coulter-Nile

Photo Credits - ESPN cricinfo.


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