The last time India welcomed Australia on their home soil in 2019, they were left stunned by the visitors’ remarkable comeback to win the ODI series 3-2. This, despite being without the services of their talismanic duo – Steve Smith and David Warner, who were serving their year-long international bans. India had managed to take an early 2-0 lead but had failed to convert it into an unassailable one.
Now, as Australia prepare to take on India for a 3-match ODI series in the middle of their cricketing summer, they’ll be eyeing a repeat. This time around, they’re packed with a robust batting line-up and a threatening pace attack. Yet, India remain firm favourites going into the series, given their familiarity with the conditions and an equally strong squad of core players.
IND vs AUS, 1st ODI: 14 Jan 2020 (Tuesday)
Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai (1:30 PM IST)
A batting paradise – that’s what any touring team would describe the Wankhede wicket that is always full of runs. Expect another high-scoring game between two teams full of batting heavyweights. In anticipation of dew, the visitors practised with wet balls ahead of the encounter.
IND vs AUS: The rivalry
Australia didn’t play a single ODI after their 2019 World Cup semi-final loss against England but they had a phenomenal year of Test cricket. A successful Ashes series gave Tim Paine’s Aussie side more than one reason to celebrate – Steve Smith’s sensational comeback to international cricket, the unearthing of young Marnus Labuschagne, the coming together of the entire unit and playing like a champion team.
On the other hand, India went on to win four of their next six ODIs post their heartbreaking World Cup semi-final loss against New Zealand. They also dazzled in the longer format at home and did relatively well in the T20Is. In their first assignment of the year 2020, India would hope to continue their winning streak but their task will be cut out against a dangerous Australian side.
With star batsman Rohit Sharma back in the mix, there’s going to be stiff competition between KL Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan for the second opener’s slot. Although, captain Virat Kohli has hinted that all three batsmen could occupy the top three positions, with Kohli himself moving down the order. Ravindra Jadeja will most probably pip Shivam Dube for the all-rounder’s role and Jasprit Bumrah will take charge of the bowling attack.
The Aussies couldn’t have asked for a bigger boost to their ODI line-up, with both Warner and Smith coming off heavy run-scoring in the recent past. 25-year-old Labuschagne could be in line for his ODI debut after an impressive start to his Test career. All eyes will also be on Australia’s pace attack comprising of Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood.