India created history with their 2-1 win over Australia in the recently concluded Test series. The visitors will now look to maintain supremacy over their vaunted rivals as the action shifts to white-ball cricket with the first one-day international due to be played at the Sydney Cricket Ground on 12 January.
Hindustan Times takes a look at India’s predicted XI for the first ODI at the SCG.
Sharma missed out on the Syndey Test as he travelled home for the birth of his first child. However, the white-ball specialist will be in a more familiar territory facing the Australians in the 50-over game. During the last ODI series, against the West Indies at home, Sharma scored at an average of almost 130, including two hundreds. He will look to continue in the same vein.
Dhawan was in sparkling form in the two T20s that he got to bat in on the Australian tour. A 42-ball 76 in at the Gabba fell short of helping Indian home, but his 22-ball 41 at the SCG was instrumental in the visitors’ 6-wicket win. Dhawan will be hoping to do more of the same through the three ODIs.
Kohli was in red-hot form in the home ODI series against the West Indies, smashing three centuries in five games at a phenomenal average of 151. Although the Indian skipper’s form in the Test series against Australia wasn’t up to his usual standards, he is going to be the visitor’s most important man on the field.
Rayudu has the backing of captain Kohli, who sees him as India’s best bet at number four. The 33-year-old scored a hundred against the Windies, consolidating his credentials for a regular spot in the team. But the Australian conditions will provide a sterner test.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni
Dhoni is back in the Indian squad after missing out on the T20 series against the Aussies. Dropping Rishabh Pant after his sparkling recent form came as a surprise to many, but the former Indian skipper remains the favoured wicket-keeper for the upcoming World Cup. He endured a difficult time against the Windies and will be eager to answer his critics.
The all-rounder would have preferred to avoid the unnecessary distractions that his unsavoury comments on a TV show have caused back home. Having recently battled an injury and currently under fire, Pandya will have to prove his detractors wrong. The fact that the first match after the furore is in a foreign land will help his cause.
Jadeja is in a good nick as his 81 not out in the Sydney Test showed. The all-rounder’s ability in the shorter formats has never been in question and he is a handy option with both the ball and the bat.
In the absence of Jasprit Bumrah, who has been rested after a spectacular effort in the Test series, Kumar will lead the Indian pace attack. He bowled well in the T20s but failed to make the playing XI in the Tests. Kumar will be eager for a good performance in Sydney.
Yadav enjoyed a prolific 2018, grabbing 45 wickets through the calendar year and has gone on to become a regular fixture in the Indian ODI side. The spinner scalped a fifer in the Sydney Test, and will be looking to carry the good form in the first ODI.
Shami was only second to Bumrah in terms of wickets in the Test series, scalping 16. His pace and swing caused the home batsmen many problems and they were often bombarded with some sweet chin music. India will be hoping for more of the same from their pacer.
Ahmed has a chance to stake a claim for the 2019 World Cup squad with good displays in the Australian conditions. The Rajasthan pacer has 11 wickets to his name in six games and will be keen to add to the tally in Sydney.