India, Australia kick-start World Cup year in Sydney

The T20I series was drawn, Kohli’s side were the deserving winners in the Test series and now we are down to the final leg of India’s marathon tour of Australia.

While India will head into 2019 with a certain aim to cement their XI for the World Cup, Australia on the other end will want to get back to winning ways first. The defending champions have won only 3 ODIs since January 2017.

A lot of faces will mark their return in the ODI leg. While Australia have named their XI, India’s combination remains as suspense ahead of the series opener in Syndey.

From the Indian dressing room:

Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan will return at the top for the men in blue. While Rohit was a part of the Test squad, Dhawan hasn’t played a lot of cricket in his break.

Skipper Virat Kohli will take his number three spot and Ambati Rayudu will bat at number four for the visitors. The ODIs will also mean that MS Dhoni returns with the gloves and in India’s middle order.

Kedar Jadhav is expected to feature at number six giving India’s batting that extra-depth and his off-spin has also yielded breakthroughs in the past making him a valuable asset overall.

After his heroics in the last Test, Jadeja should be in the running to take the all-rounder’s spot. Bhuvneshwar Kumar returns to lead India’s bowling attack in the absence of Jasprit Bumrah who is rested.

Khaleel Ahmed and Mohammad Shami will be Kohli’s likely options as far as the pace unit is concerned. There is a high possibility of India fielding both their wrist-spinners in Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal.

From the Australian dressing room:

Australia have revived their look from the 80s. The host country is set to play the ODI series in their old Yellow and Green jersey which they wore during the 1985 Benson and Hedges World Series.

Skipper Aaron Finch will have Alex Carey opening with him. Usman Khawaja takes the number three spot. If India’s top three look lethal, Australia’s top-order doesn’t really seem challenging.

Shaun Marsh and Peter Handscomb make up the middle order for the Aussies while Marcus Stoinis and Glenn Maxwell add firepower to their line-up at six and seven.

Their main concern, however, is their bowling. When Peter Siddle last played an ODI for Australia – Ricky Ponting was the captain and Nathan Hauritz was their specialist spinner.

To put it straight, Siddle played his last ODI in November 2010. He brings experience back into this Australian side and alongside him is a debutant in Jason Behrendorff. The left-arm pacer is all set to play his first 50-over game.

His first four International wickets were – Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Manish Pandey and Shikhar Dhawan. Australia will be pinning their hopes on him in the absence of Cummins and Starc.

The young Jhye Richardson will be Australia’s third specialist seamer in the XI.

The ODI series kickstarts right where the Test series came to an end — at the Sydney Cricket Ground. The match begins at 7.50 AM IST.