The Big Picture
After the razmataz of the T20I series, the focus now shifts to the 5-ODI series, as both sides look to fine tune the chinks in their armor ahead of the 2019 World Cup.
While Australia still has 5 more ODIs after this series [against Pakistan], for Team India, it is dress-rehearsal of sorts, as it the last five ODIs that they play before the 2019 World Cup.
On Paper, it is a competition between a No.2 ranked and No.6 ranked teams' in the world; a battle between a side that has been winning almost everything in the past two years [Win Percentage- 71.93] and a team- the current World Champions, who have been grappling with form, suspension, have lost virtually everything since Jan, 2017 [Win [Percentage- 25.81].
For India, it will be a matter of giving enough game time to their fringe players, while not compromising on the balance of the side. KL Rahul, after two good innings in the T20Is, has stormed back into the reckoning of being the third-opener for the 2019 World Cup but much will depend on how he makes use of his opportunities in the 5-ODIs.
Unlike KL Rahul, Rishabh Pant did not make use of the opportunities he got in the T20Is. With Dinesh Karthik dropped from the ODI set-up, the selectors have thrown their weight behind Pant, and the 5 ODIs is another opportunity for the swashbuckling left-hander to seal his spot for the World Cup, as is for Vijay Shankar. With Hardik Pandya out of the side due to his lower-back issues, Shankar is expected to fill-in the all-rounder's spot to allow India to stick to their template of two fast-bowers+ two wrist-spinners and an all-rounder.
Australia, on the other hand, has a slightly more breathing space, with ten ODI still to go before they underline their squad for the World Cup. But with Steven Smith and David Warner set to return after March 29th, there are still plenty of questions around a few spots in the side. For example, Glenn Maxwell. The Aussie batsman made a strong case of himself batting higher up in the order after two swashbuckling performances at the No.4 spot in the T20I series, but all his expectations were shot down by coach Justin Langer, who said the team management would only do "what's best for the team".
It will be a crucial series for Peter Handscomb too. With Shaun Marsh yet to join the side and Alex Carey in-line to don the wicket-keeping gloves, the right-hander will look to make use of the chances and present a strong case for himself ahead of the World Cup. But, the biggest worry for Australia will be the form of Aaron Finch.
Finch's batting has shown a consistent decline in the past six months, vindicated by his average of 22.50 in the last ten games. The incoming delivery from Bhuvneshwar [in Australia] and Bumrah [in the first T20I] has been Finch's undoing and how he negates the threat at the top will be crucial for the Aussies- both in this series and the road ahead.
Venue:- Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, Hyderabad
Match Timing:- Saturday, March 02, 2019, 01:30 PM IST
The average first innings score at the Uppal stadium is 286; indicative of the plethora of runs in it. In fact, the last time these two sides played at the venue [in 2009], more than 600 runs were scored including a swashbuckling 175 from Sachin Tendulkar.
Do you know?
- Australia has played two ODI in Hyderabad- 2007 & 2009, and have won both.
- Rohit Sharma needs 192 runs to scale the 8000-run mark in ODI cricket.
- Australia hasn't won an ODI series in India since their 4-2 triumph in 2009.
Team News & Playing 11
India is likely to go in with their template of two fast-bowlers+ two spinners and an all-rounder, which means Mohammad Shami will play the fast-bowling partner to Jasprit Bumrah while Vijay Shankar will slot-in as an all-rounder in place of injured Hardik Pandya.
Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli [c], Ambati Rayudu, Kedar Jadhav, Vijay Shankar, MS Dhoni, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Mohammad Shami, Jasprit Bumrah
Australia, on the other hand, confirmed that Alex Carey will don the wicket-keeping gloves after missing out on the T20I series while with Shaun Marsh still unavailable, Ashton Turner is likely to get his maiden ODI cap.
Aaron Finch [c], Usman Khawaja, Marcus Stoinis, Glenn Maxwell, Peter Handscomb [wk], Ashton Turner, Jason Behrendroff, Jhye Richardson, Adam Zampa, Pat Cummins