India vs Australia 2020, 1st ODI, Preview: Hosts face selection dilemmas before opening clash
India's cricket frenzy population yearns hard-fought, mouth-watering battles, especially since neighbours Sri Lanka proved dead ducks. Gladly, sterner challenges await. Expect nothing less than fireworks as India lock horns versus a mercurial Australian side on Wankhede's belter this Tuesday. The Aussies probably are the toughest opponents India will face this home season.
Shikhar Dhawan's blazing resurgence has mushroomed India's selection conundrum of designating Rohit Sharma's opening partner. While KL Rahul's been phenomenally consistent lately, the Delhi southpaw's white-ball credentials are hard to overlook. Furthermore, being a left-hander provides Dhawan a slight edge over his junior counterpart. Either of the two will have to miss out. The only alternative solution is pushing Shreyas Iyer down the order to accommodate Rahul at number four, the position which has brought him notable success hitherto.
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Navdeep Saini's development also gives the management another happy headache. Considering the Australian batsmen's dodgy technique against spin and the benign track, India might prefer going in with three frontline tweakers. Pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah walks into the eleven straight away, but Mohammed Shami can encounter competition from tearaway Saini in that case. Similarly, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, and Shivam Dubey are likely contenders for the finisher's role.
Australia ooze firepower and tenacity. David Warner and Aaron Finch can together bludgeon the greatest of attacks. The run-machine, Steven Smith, obviously threatens any opposition. Peter Handscomb and Marnus Labuschagne are bright prospects, renowned for wristy strokeplay and prompt footwork - crucial factors while batting in subcontinental conditions. Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, and Josh Hazlewood comprise the lethal fast bowling department, brimming with confidence. Essentially, the visitors possess all the ingredients required to overwhelm India in their own backyard.
Match Details: India vs Australia, 1st ODI
Date and Time: January 14, 1:30 PM local
Venue: Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai
What to expect: The sun-baked, hard-rolled featherbed promises an entertaining affair. Pleasant weather is forecast on matchday. The lightning-quick outfield and dew factor makes defending targets extremely challenging.
India: KL Rahul/ Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma (vc), Virat Kohli (c), Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant (wk), Kedar Jadhav/ Manish Pandey, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Navdeep Saini/ Yuzvendra Chahal.
Australia: Aaron Finch (c), David Warner, Steve Smith, Marnus Labuschagne, Peter Handscomb, Alex Carey (vc,wk), Ashton Agar, Adam Zampa, Pat Cummins (vc), Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood/ Kane Richardson.
What they said:
"It's a good dilemma to have. Rohit Sharma is an obvious choice of course. Both of them (Shikhar and Rahul) are playing well. Shikhar has done well in one-dayers and Rahul is in great form. So we'll deal with it when we have to. There are still a couple of days to go. The management will sit down and make the choice," India's batting coach Vikram Rathour told reporters in the pre-match press conference.
Meanwhile Aussie captain threw his weight behind Marnus Labuschagne's potential
"We know that he's not going to be overawed by the occasion. He's come back into Test cricket after missing out at the start of the Ashes and he's been unbelievable, so hopefully he can continue that. The form that he showed in the one-day games was outstanding domestically."
This is tantalisingly poised series, as close as teh last one when Australia came visting.