Team India is currently in Australia for a gruelling tour that will feature three ODIs, as many T20Is and four Test matches. The series kicks-off with the first of the three one-day games in Sydney on November 27. The second match will also be played at the SCG, on November 29, followed by the final ODI at Manuka Oval, Canberra on December 2.
The last time Team India visited Australia in 2018-19, they clinched the three-match ODI series 2-1. After losing the first one-dayer in Sydney despite Rohit Sharma’s brilliant hundred, India fought back courtesy Virat Kohli’s century and MS Dhoni’s fifty to claim victory in the second ODI at Adelaide. Yuzvendra Chahal’s 6 for 42 and Dhoni’s unbeaten 87 saw Team India claim the series at Melbourne.
With Rohit Sharma unavailable for the limited-overs leg and Dhoni having retired, here are three in-form players who could be central to Team India’s fortunes in the ODIs in Australia.
3 players who could be crucial for Team India in the ODIs against Australia
#1. Shikhar Dhawan
In Rohit’s absence, there will be additional responsibility on veteran opener Shikhar Dhawan to perform. The left-hander had an excellent IPL 2020 in which he notched up 618 runs in 17 games at a strike rate of 144.73.
Dhawan shattered records by becoming the first batsman to hit back-to-back hundreds in the history of the IPL. Apart from two centuries, Dhawan also slammed four half-centuries in the tournament and played a stellar role in Delhi Capitals’ progression to the IPL 2020 final.
The southpaw will be on a high following his success in this year’s IPL, which has silenced critics who felt he no longer merited a place in the Indian limited-overs set-up.
Dhawan, though, will be eager to perform in Australia, as he managed only 55 runs in three ODI innings at an average of 18.33 and a strike rate of 73.33 the last time. This could be his last visit to Australia in Team India colours, so there would be extra motivation for Dhawan to perform well.
#2. KL Rahul
Although Kings XI Punjab struggled in IPL 2020, their skipper KL Rahul stood out amid the ruins. He won the Orange Cap, amassing 670 runs although he played only 14 matches. Rahul hit one hundred and five fifties at a strike rate of 129.34 and an average of 55.83.
Rahul looked in sublime form most times he went out in the middle, and his consistency bordered on the unbelievable. He was not part of Team India’s ODI squad that visited Australia in 2018-19, but has been appointed vice-captain in the absence of Rohit, which is a giant leap.
Rohit’s unavailability for the one-dayers also means Rahul is likely to step up to open the innings, providing a golden opportunity for the talented batsman to reiterate his class on the big stage against one of the toughest international opponents.
Even before IPL 2020, Rahul was in good form in New Zealand at the start of the year. He smashed 204 runs in three one-dayers for Team India at an average of 102, and was the leading run-scorer with 224 runs in five T20Is at a strike rate of 144.52. Rahul will be keen to carry on his impressive run in Australia as well.
#3. Jasprit Bumrah
He may have narrowly missed out on winning the Purple Cap, but Jasprit Bumrah yet again played the stellar role in Mumbai Indians’ fifth IPL title triumph, claiming 27 wickets in 15 matches at a strike rate of 13.33 and an excellent economy rate of 6.73.
Bumrah got his yorkers spot on more often than not, and also used his variations to deadly effect. He reiterated that despite battling injuries in recent times, he remains among the best in the business.
Heading into the IPL, there were question marks over Bumrah’s form as he struggled in the ODIs against New Zealand. Playing in two of three games for Team India, the pace spearhead was wicketless with unimpressive figures of 0 for 53 and 0 for 50.
Bumrah’s variations weren’t working, and it seemed as if opponents had gotten a hang of how to deal with India’s trump card. His success in IPL 2020, though, has proved otherwise. However, Bumrah will face a tougher challenge in Australia. Spearheading Team India’s pace attack in the one-dayers, he will have to deliver for the visitors to make a significant impression on the Aussies.Published 15 Nov 2020, 14:55 IST