Virat Kohli along with other players attends a training session in Mumbai on Monday. AP
Team India will be looking to take revenge of their last ODI series defeat against Australia when the two teams meet in the first game of the three-match rubber at the Wankhede on Tuesday.
The last time Australia played an ODI series against India in the sub-continent; they came from 0-2 behind and went on to win the five-match series 3-2. And that win will surely be on the minds of both the teams, especially the visitors who would be brimming with confidence.
The reason behind Australia’s sky-high confidence is also the return of their premier batters Steve Smith and David Warner, who both proved their worth in the ODI World Cup. The duo have been in prolific form since then and they showed their prowess in the T20I series against Pakistan and Sri Lanka as well. India, on the other hand, have had good outings against West Indies and Sri Lanka in white-ball cricket in the recent times and would be raring to go.
With the return of Rohit Sharma and Mohammad Shami, the hosts would feel a lot more confident, having adequate arsenal in both the departments.
Contrary to all the talk, there might be a possibility where all three — Rohit, Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul — will play against Australia in the first ODI, India skipper Virat Kohli has said.
“Look, a guy in form is always good for the team...You obviously want to have the best players available and then choose from what the combination should be for the team. There might be a possibility that all three (Rohit, Shikhar and Rahul) might play. It will be interesting to see what balance we want to take in on the field,” Kohli said on the eve of the match scheduled to be played at the Wankhede.
Kohli was quizzed about his batting position if all three play as the captain comes in at No.3.
“I would be very happy to bat (lower down the order). Look I am not possessive about where I play. I am not insecure about where I bat,” he said.
“Being the captain of the team, it is my job to make sure that the next lot is also ready. A lot of the other people might not look at it that way, but your job as a captain is not only to look after the team right now, but also to prepare a team that you leave behind when you eventually pass it onto someone else,” he added.
For the hosts, however, it would be more about the combination they go with. Will they go with Manish Pandey and Kedar Jadhav or will Ravindra Jadeja and Shivam Dube get a go ahead - this remains a question which can only be answered by the team management.
Also, it will be interesting to see whether Kohli goes with the spin duo of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal or gives rest to one of the two.
Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting has already predicted the 2-1 scoreline of the three-match series in visitor’s favour while stating that Indian team would be keen to “redeem themselves”.
The last time that the two teams met in ODIs was in the World Cup where India emerged out victorious. They have not played any ODI cricket since then, but they looked really balanced and penetrative in the T20Is they played against Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
Another interesting thing to look out for in the three ODIs would be Marnus Labuschagne who is all set to make his debut in the 50-over format. Labuschagne is coming into the series on the back of a prolific home summer in Test cricket and has been spoken of highly by everyone.
Thus, it will be interesting to see whether the 25-year-old will be able to translate his form in white-ball cricket or will he suffer on the sub-continent conditions against quality Indian bowling unit, which consists of world’s best pacers at the moment — Jasprit Bumrah.
“According to me he’s (Bumrah) the most skilful bowler in the world in any format of the game. To play against him, he brings match intensity in the nets. He’s not shy of hitting us on the head or targeting our ribs every now and then,” Kohli said.
Meanwhile, Kohli said that his side are ready to play a day-night Test at Australia’s formidable Gabba ground or in Perth when they tour Down Under later this year.
Kohli’s men played their first day-night Test in Kolkata last year, thrashing Bangladesh in just over two days, and are set to take on Australia in a three-match one-day series starting Tuesday in Mumbai. Australia have pushed for more day-night Tests and face the hosts again later in the year, with a four-match series starting at the Gabba in Brisbane.
India had knocked back overtures to play the format in Adelaide at the end of 2018, but Kohli now appears more at ease with pink ball cricket.
“We played the day-night Test here and were pretty happy with how it went. It’s become a very exciting feature of any Test series, so we are absolutely open to play a day-night Test,” Kohli told reporters in Mumbai.
“We are ready and up for the challenge.