Having won the Border-Gavaskar Trophy 2-1, India face Australia in a three-match ODI series, with the first fixture scheduled for Friday (March 17), at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. Regular ODI captain Rohit Sharma won’t be available for the series opener due to personal commitments, and Hardik Pandya will lead the side in Mumbai.
With the upcoming ODI World Cup in sight, many Indian players will be aiming to put in good displays and impress Rahul Dravid and his management staff. The home side will also be aiming to build a winning tempo in the ODI format, ahead of the ICC showpiece event. The selectors and the team management will also have a huge task ahead, as they will need to find the perfect combination for the tournament.
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Shubman Gill, who was in brilliant form during the fourth Test, is expected to open for India. The 23-year-old has bagged three centuries in his last four ODI appearances for India this year. Rohit’s absence could see Shubman open with Ishan Kishan, who has disappointed and has failed to build on his record-breaking 210 vs Bangladesh in December 2022. This could be the chance for Ishan to showcase his potential as an opener and increase his chances of being given more opportunities at the top order. He will also don the wicketkeeper role. In 13 ODIs, Kishan has registered 507 runs, and he will be hoping to add more pressure on the selectors for the World Cup.
Virat Kohli is certain to bat at no. 3, and the former India captain finally bagged his 28th Test ton in the fourth Test vs Australia, ending a three-year century wait in the longest format. Just like the final Test, he will need to anchor his side’s innings. Meanwhile, Shreyas Iyer’s injury has given Suryakumar Yadav an opportunity to bat at no. 4, and the world’s no. 1 T20I batter will be seeking to cement his position in the Indian ODI squad.
KL Rahul faced plenty of criticism during the Test series for his poor form, and he will be under heavy pressure in the first ODI. He is likely to bat at no. 5, something which he has done in the past. With the World Cup coming up, he will be hoping to bounce back to form.
The captain for the match, Hardik had earlier skippered India in one ODI against West Indies last year. Although his personal form has dipped lately, his captaincy has improved a lot. He will be aiming to perform with both bat and bat against Australia, with his usual dominating style. Ravindra Jadeja was adjudged as the Player of the Series for his performances in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, sharing it with R Ashwin. Other than his spin power, he will also be crucial with the bat for India.
The selection headaches start for India in the bowling department. With Jadeja returning, slotting in Washington Sundar will be difficult. As far as the lead spinner is concerned, Kuldeep Yadav has done more than enough in his last few appearances to start before leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal.
Mohammed Shami will be expected to lead India’s pace battery alongside Mohammed Siraj. Shami was in good form during the Test series vs Australia and led the pace attack with leadership and calmness. He will be important for the home side with the new ball. Meanwhile, Siraj has always been India’s go-to bowler in difficult situations, and his death bowling skills could come in handy for Hardik.
The fight for the third seamer’s slot will be between Shardul Thakur and Umran Malik. While the latter has pace and can be an asset in the middle overs, Shardul is ahead in the race because of his batting abilities and wicket-taking luck.
Openers: Shubman Gill, Ishan Kishan (wicketkeeper)
Top and middle order: Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, KL Rahul
All-rounders: Hardik Pandya (captain), Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur
Spinner: Kuldeep Yadav
Pacers: Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj
India’s Predicted XI for 1st ODI vs Australia: Shubman Gill, Ishan Kishan (wicketkeeper), Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, KL Rahul, Hardik Pandya (captain), Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj.