After consecutive series wins against West Indies and Sri Lanka, the Indian cricket team is geared up for the three-match One Day International series against Australia at home. The series, starting from 14th January 2020, is expected to be a close one, as two of the best ODI teams in the world will lock horns.
The schedule for the series is as follows:
1st ODI: 14th January 2020 at Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai
2nd ODI: 17th January 2020 at SCAS, Rajkot
3rd ODI: 19th January 2020 at M. Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru
ODI Squad: Virat Kohli (c), Rohit Sharma (vc), Shikhar Dhawan, Shivam Dube, Shreyas Iyer, Kedar Jadhav, Manish Pandey, Rishabh Pant (wk), Jasprit Bumrah, Yuzvendra Chahal, K.L. Rahul, Ravindra Jadeja, Navdeep Saini, Mohammed Shami, Shardul Thakur, Kuldeep Yadav
Overall, the team looks quite good on paper, with a perfect mix of youth and experience. With Jasprit Bumrah back and raring to go, the bowling unit has definitely received a big boost. The batting unit is arguably one of the best in the world at the moment, with stalwarts like Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma leading it.
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Virat Kohli will want his team to continue with their winning momentum and notch up another ODI series victory at home, which they have made a habit of in recent years. However, in order to do so, they need to play their very best cricket against the strong visiting Australian team.
In this article, we look at what India's best possible playing XI could be in this ODI series.
Openers: Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan
The onus of giving India a solid start will be on the opening pair of Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan. Sharma is, at present, the best ODI opener in the world and hence is an automatic selection in the playing XI. For the second opener's slot, there will tough competition between the in-form KL Rahul and the comeback man Dhawan.
However, the southpaw is likely to get the nod ahead of Rahul, primarily because of his better ODI record against the Aussies. The Indian opening pair has plenty of experience under its belt and India can definitely expect the two men to do well at the top of the order.
Middle-order: Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, Shivam Dube
Virat Kohli, one of the best players of his generation, will be coming in at number three. The Indian skipper will look to play his usual role of an anchor for the team. Given the kind of form he's in right now, the Australian bowlers will find it very difficult to contain him and will have to be at their very best.
Shreyas Iyer will most probably come in at number four. The Indian team management seems to be backing him as a long term prospect for the position. He has the unique ability to rotate the strike with ease, as well as play the big shots whenever required. However, he does need to be a bit more consistent, especially with Manish Pandey also jostling for the spot.
At number five, it is a tossup between Shivam Dube and Kedhar Jadav. Dube's explosive batting ability might just work to his advantage here. That the 26-year-old is also a handy bowler, is also a plus.
Wicket-keeper: Rishabh Pant
In absence of competitor Sanju Samson, Rishabh Pant will be India's obvious choice for the wicket-keeper's slot in the playing XI.
Pant's devastating batting style makes him a potential match-winner in the limited-overs format. However, his performance with the bat has not always been satisfactory and the southpaw has developed a habit of throwing his wicket away. He will surely be aiming to make amends on that and score big in order to cement his place in the playing XI.
Spinners: Kuldeep Yadav and Ravindra Jadeja
With three world-class spinners -- Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, and Yuzvendra Chahal -- in the team, the management might just get tempted to play them all. However, only two of them will likely find a place in the playing XI.
Considering Jadeja's ability to contribute with both bat and ball, coupled with brilliant fielding skills, he has a definite edge over the other two. For the second spinners' spot, Kuldeep Yadav is most likely to get the nod ahead of Yuzvendra Chahal as he has been in better form in recent times.
Fast Bowlers: Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, and Navdeep Saini
Jasprit Bumrah will be back in his role as the leader of the Indian pace attack. He'll be required to get into the thick of things right from the start and his pairing with Mohammed Shami, the other certainty in the pace department, will play a crucial role in determining whether the series swings India's way.
For the third fast bowler's spot, Navdeep Saini edges past Shardul Thakur because of his raw pace and potential match-winning capabilities.