India v Australia 1st ODI Preview: At Full Strength, Both Teams Face Problem of Plenty to Get Combinations Right
While India will have to answer the Rahul or Dhawan and Kuldeep or Jadeja questions, Australia will ponder over picking one between Kane Richardson and Josh Hazlewood.
It is quite strange that Australia beat India 2-1 when they last played an ODI series in India and India beat Australia 2-1 when they last played an ODI series in Australia. Team India would like to set the record straight after the defeat in the last ODI series against the Aussies at home.
The good thing for the fans is that both teams are at their strongest with no big players being rested. One can understand the value that Australia have assigned to this series with the fact that they are touring India for an ODI series that has landed out of nowhere. And, this is even after them just coming off a hectic home season and with their premier domestic T20 competition, Big Bash on full swing.
Momentum is one of the most crucial things in white-ball cricket and with this being a short three-match series, its importance will be even more. It would be very difficult for the team losing the opening encounter to come back into the series. Hence, both teams will leave no stone unturned in getting off to a positive start.
Rahul or Dhawan?
The first ODI will be played at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, which offers a batting beauty each time. A lot of runs will be for the taking and the teams will like to choose their personnel accordingly.
Both teams have an embarrassment of riches. The first headache for India would be the selection of Rohit Sharma's opening partner. As Sharma returns after a break, following his rest for the Sri Lanka T20Is, he will walk into the side.
Shikhar Dhawan had been his opening partner for the longest time and was doing a great job before injuries kept him out for an extended period. In the meanwhile, KL Rahul grabbed his opportunities with both hands and has scored runs both rapidly and consistently. Rahul is looking in the form of his life and it would be very tough to drop him.
That said, the protocol that India have followed is to give a player his rightful place when he returns after injury. More so, Rahul already seems to be the team's prefered choice at the moment in the shortest format of the game, with the T20 World Cup coming up.
The team can consider giving Dhawan at least this ODI series before they take a call. If the southpaw does not perform, they are free to go in with KL Rahul as the first choice for the New Zealand tour.
Kedar Jadhav, Manish Pandey or Shivam Dube?
The next selection issue for India would be the number six spot. Whether they choose to go in with a specialist batsman or compromise on the batting ability for a sixth bowling option will be interesting to track.
At the moment, the team seems to be leaning in the favour of Kedar Jadhav at number six because he can also chip in with a few overs. But, they can also choose to go in with Manish Pandey, with the form that he has shown in domestic cricket over the last few months.
If the team is not too sure going in with an out and out batsman, they can also consider Shivam Dube, another batting all-rounder, who will provide you 4-5 overs along with his big-hitting ability towards the end.
Ravindra Jadeja or Kul-Cha?
Linked to the same issue is whether or not Ravi Jadeja will make the XI. Jadeja has been a pretty handy batsman for the team at number seven, which is why he has been playing consistently in ODIs.
However, the team would like to consider playing Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal together, a ploy that brought them a lot of success through 2018 and early 2019. But, once the two spinners went for plenty against England in the World Cup, the team has abandoned the move altogether. With the T20 World Cup set to be played on the big grounds of Australia, the team would like to play both of them together to help them understand their roles better.
Both Smith and Labuschagne in, who bats where?
For Australia, the major talking point would be the batting order as far as Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne are concerned. Labuschagne bats at three currently while Smith comes in at four in Test cricket. However, it is expected that Smith will be promoted to number three in the absence of Usman Khawaja while Labuschagne will bat at four.
Hazlewood or Richardson?
Ashton Agar will bat at number seven and will be in the role of a batting all-rounder. Agar is not only a very useful batsman but he also balls quite handy left-arm spin.
With Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc being certainties in the XI, the competition for the third seamer's place will be between Kane Richardson and Josh Hazlewood. While Hazlewood is a bowler with bigger stature and has also been the number one ODI bowler at one point, Kane Richardson's current form, both in international cricket and the Big Bash League, will ensure that he makes the XI.
Here's a look at the predicted playing XI of both teams:
India - Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli (c), Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant (wk), Kedar Jadhav/Manish Pandey, Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Yuzvendra Chahal, Mohammad Shami, Jasprit Bumrah
Australia - Aaron Finch (c), David Warner, Steve Smith, Marnus Labuschagne, Peter Handscomb, Alex Carey (wk), Ashton Agar, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Kane Richardson, Adam Zampa
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