Australia and India have contested well in Tests in recent times. Earlier this year, India managed to grab back the Border-Gavaskar Trophy despite trailing 0-1. They now look forward to build on their winning momentum in the upcoming ODI series too. The last time India squared off against Australia in an ODI series was in January 2016. On that occasion Australia had whipped India 4-1 — but then, it was played in Australian soil. India had competed well with bat but their bowling lacked the mojo.

A young lad by the name of Jasprit Bumrah had made his international debut in the final game of that series. A year and a half later, Bumrah has transformed into a limited-overs giant, currently No. 4 in ICC ODI Rankings. Mohammed Shami is back to lead the attack. Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Umesh Yadav are bowling the best they ever have. To add to that, there is a young brigade of spinners: leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal, left-arm finger-spinner Akshar Patel, Chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav, and part-time off-spinner Kedar Jadhav.

For once, even Australia has to admit that India will enter a contest against them with a better bowling attack. Adding more woes to the Australian camp, their top two bowlers, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood are missing the series due to their respective injuries. Even Jason Gillespie feels that Indian bowling holds the edge, but the yellow-factor in his blood makes him feel that Australia may go on to win the series 3-2.

Australia, currently world champions, are currently placed at No. 2 spot in the ICC ODI Rankings, just above India. However, this 5-ODI series can help either team to climb up to the pinnacle. Virat Kohli is in no mood to give away the winning momentum that he picked up in Sri Lanka where his team dismantled the hosts 9-0 across formats.

India have played 18 ODIs in 2017 under Kohli: they have won 13 and lost 4. The last time these two sides had contested in a bilateral series in India was in 2013-14. India, who had assaulted them 4-0 in the Test series earlier that year, went on to win the closely-contested ODI series 3-2. The series is best remembered for Rohit Sharma’s 209 and Kohli’s whirlwind century at Jaipur.

Now to 2017-18…

A fresh home season for India. The Australian ODI squad is relatively young with vice-captain David Warner being the oldest at 30. The side is top-heavy with Warner, Aaron Finch and skipper Steven Smith at No. 3. They have a good bunch of all-rounders in Glenn Maxwell, Travis Head and Marcus Stoinis. Maxwell was among those who played major roles in the 2013-14 series.

Australia have called Peter Handscomb as cover for Finch, who suffered a last-minute injury scare. It could have been George Bailey but Australian think-tank seems to have given him a pass.

Bailey had led Australia in the 2013-14 tour, and was their best performer that series. He was also Man of the Series in Australia’s ODI triumph in Sri Lanka last year. He knows to score runs in these conditions. It is surprising that despite their brittle middle-order, Australia do not have Bailey in their squad. The perpetual smiling former captain is happy signing caps and warming benches for World XI in proximity — in Pakistan.

Australia’s bowling success will largely depend on Pat Cummins, James Faulkner, Nathan Coulter-Nile and Adam Zampa. All four have rich IPL experience. Faulkner had played a crucial role with bat in 2013-14. From hammering Ishant Sharma to scoring a hundred at Bengaluru, Faulkner ensured he was a household name in world cricket. A year-and-a-half later he went on to be the Man of the Match in World Cup final.

Kane Richardson is also a part of the squad in pace of Hazlewood. He has IPL experience as well. However, Coulter-Nile, who bagged 15 wickets from 8 T20s for Kolkata Knight Riders earlier this year, is expected to start ahead of him. Coulter-Nile also bowled tightly in the practice game, giving away 16 from his 7 overs.

Battling criticism, Matthew Wade will continue to don the gloves behind stumps. His good-form (45 off 24 balls) in the warm-up game will give him some confidence ahead of this series. If the runs continue to elude him at the top level, Australia may go hand the big gloves to Handscomb.

Australia-tour-of-India--2017

In the autumn of 1984, Australia, for the first time landed on Indian shores to play an ODI series. Kim Hughes men beat the then world champions 3-0 in a 5-match series. The series also witnessed the first day-night international match outside Sydney — in New Delhi.

(Trivia: Another Sydney-based gentleman named Steve Smith played in that series. He batted in only 1 innings, in the final match, at Indore. He scored a brisk 54-ball 56.)

Three years later, Australia went on to win their maiden World Cup here. The teams have so far played 7 bilateral series on Indian soil with Australia winning 4 and India 3. To India’s credit, they have won the previous 2 series (1-0 in 2010-11 and 3-2 in 2013-14) played here.

Australia have an upper hand in head-to-head against India at the latter’s land. Out of the 51 ODIs played here, Australia have won 25, while India have won 21 and 5 games have been abandoned.

Australia have played a total of 81 ODIs in India, winning a massive 48 and losing 28. Apart from 4 bilateral series, Australia have also won 1987 World Cup, 1998 Pepsi Tri-series, 2003 TVS Cup and Chappell-Hadlee Trophy in 2011 (that was contested against New Zealand during the 2011 World Cup).