Kohli in his pre-match press conference hinted that Ravindra Jadeja, who filled in the all-rounder's spot in Pandya’s absence against West Indies, could reprise that role against Australia.
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After their historic 2-1 Test series win, Team India will be riding high on confidence as they approach the three-match ODI series starting on January 12 at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Playing in their first ODI of a World Cup year, Kohli's men will be eager to use the opportunity as preparation for cricket's showpiece event which kicks off in May.
India recorded their first Test series win on Australian soil when the rain-affected fourth Test match in Sydney ended in a stalemate. However, following the high of their historic triumph, the squad has since been rocked by the controversial comments made by Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul on a TV show.
The duo has been suspended pending an inquiry by the BCCI and will be travelling back to India. KL Rahul wasn’t expected to feature in the playing 11 due to his own woeful form coupled with the well-settled pairing of Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan at the top of the order. However, Pandya forms an essential cog, with his ability to bowl 10 overs while also wielding his willow.
Kohli in his pre-match press conference hinted that Ravindra Jadeja, who filled in the all-rounder’s spot in Pandya’s absence against West Indies, could reprise that role against Australia.
In the bowling department, Jasprit Bumrah has been rested for the ODI series against both Australia and New Zealand. His absence provides the team with the opportunity to experiment with the bowling combinations and give youngster Khaleel Ahmed some much-needed playing time. Bhuvneshwar Kumar has shrugged off his injury issues and will be raring to have a go at the Aussies along with Mohammed Shami who was the second-highest wicket-taker for India in the recently concluded Test series. Mohammed Siraj is also included in the squad and could feature if any of the other pacers fail to make an impact.
Australia have rested their entire frontline pace attack of Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc who tormented the batsmen during the Test series. Marcus Stoinis who picked up eight wickets in three games against South Africa makes a return to the squad along with Peter Siddle, Jhye Richardson and Jason Behrendorff who have all impressed in the Big Bash League.
Aaron Finch will lead the team in the ODI series and Australia will hope he shrugs off his woeful Test form and returns to his explosive best. Alex Carey who has been exceptional in the Big Bash League and was the second best batsman against South Africa has been drafted in to keep wickets.
India (Predicted Playing XI): Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli (c), Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni (wk), Kedar Jadhav, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav, Khaleel Ahmed, and Mohammed Shami
Australia (Playing XI): Aaron Finch (c), Alex Carey (wk), Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, Peter Handscomb, Marcus Stoinis, Glenn Maxwell, Nathan Lyon, Peter Siddle, Jhye Richardson and Jason Behrendorff.
Players to watch out for:
The Indian skipper finished third on the list of highest run-scorers in the Test series and will be eager to once again be among the runs in the one-day format. Kohli averages 51.39 against Australia with 1182 runs coming from just 26 ODI innings against them.
The Test specialist off-spinner has been re-called up to the ODI squad and will be expected to carry forward his incredible Test series form. Lyon finished as the joint-highest wicket-taker against India in the recently concluded Test series having scalped 21 wickets including two five-wicket hauls and one four-wicket haul.
Betting odds: (oddschecker.com)
Where to watch:The India vs Australia ODI series will be beamed live on the Sony Pictures Network. The first match is scheduled to begin at 7.50 AM and will also be streamed online on the Sonyliv app.