Former Indian opener Aakash Chopra has opined that the presence of all-rounders in the Australian lineup gives them a slight edge over Team India in the ODI series, which starts on November 27.
He made this observation while picking the ideal playing XI of the two teams for the ODI series in a video shared on his YouTube channel.
"The ideal XI for India is a tough question because Rohit Sharma is not there. I am confused in one place, whether I should play Mayank or Manish. If I play Mayank, then Rahul will come at No.5 but if I play Manish, Rahul can open."
Aakash Chopra observed that he would want KL Rahul to open the batting due to his ability to play the big knocks, but acknowledged that the Indian team may not be in agreement with that approach.
"I feel Rahul should be made to open but I also feel that Team India will not do that. Why I am saying that Rahul should open is because the form he is in, the sort of player he is, the day he gets set, he will score 150 to 175 runs."
Aakash Chopra highlighted that the Kings XI Punjab captain played substantial knocks even in the middle order and can thus be more productive as an opener.
"He has scored hundreds and big runs even at No.4 to No.6, then I feel he should be given a chance at the top of the order."
The reputed commentator named KL Rahul as one of the openers in his ideal XI for Team India, thereby choosing Manish Pandey to play in the middle order ahead of Mayank Agarwal.
"So my ideal XI, which may not be the same for Team India, will be Rahul with Shikhar Dhawan, then Kohli, Iyer, Pandey, Hardik Pandya."
Aakash Chopra observed that the Indian team would have to play Ravindra Jadeja ahead of Kuldeep Yadav to provide some depth to their batting.
"After that I will play, Ravindra Jadeja. However much I try to play Kuldeep, I will not be able to do that because Hardik is not bowling and you need somebody who can bat at No.7."
Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Navdeep Saini were Aakash Chopra's selection of specialist bowlers in his ideal playing XI for the Indian team.
"After that Chahal and three fast bowlers - Bumrah, Shami and Navdeep Saini. That will be my playing XI for Team India."
Aakash Chopra on the ideal playing XI for Australia
While picking the ideal playing XI for Australia, Aakash Chopra pointed out that the Aaron Finch-led side has greater depth in their batting compared to Team India.
"David Warner with Aaron Finch, after that Steve Smith, Marnus Labuschagne, Maxwell, Carey and then Marcus Stoinis. So they have got depth. They have Stoinis at No.7 and we have got Jaddu."
Aakash Chopra also observed that Glenn Maxwell provides Australia with an additional bowling option, while India does not have that choice since Hardik Pandya is likely to play as a specialist batsman.
"These are the Australian pitches, so the story will be different. Stoinis and Maxwell will also give them overs. So that is the other difference, that no one is bowling in our top 6 while they have a bowler in their top 6, so that makes the balance a little better."
Aakash Chopra highlighted that Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc are also capable of holding their own with the bat.
"And after that Cummins, who bats well, Starc, who also bats well and then Hazlewood and Zampa."
Aakash Chopra signed off by observing that the presence of all-rounders and the batting depth that they possess give Australia a slight edge over India in the ODI series.
"So, if we see in terms of all-rounders, the Australian team has a little more depth. They have batting till No.8 or No.9 while our batting will end at No.7. So I feel the balance tilts slightly towards Australia."
The Indian team does have a slight issue in terms of their lower-order batting. But they would hope that their top order comes up with the goods, thereby nullifying the slight advantage Australia may have in terms of their batting depth.