Pune’s Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium is set to make its One-Day International (ODI) debut when India take on the depleted Australian side in the first of the seven-match series on Sunday.
Australia landed in India without Michael Clarke as he lost his race against time to be fully fit. His pet-peeve: the back problem. The only Twenty20 at Rajkot saw the hosts making a daunting 200-plus total look simple, giving skipper George Bailey a lot to ponder ahead of the ODI series.
To be fair to Australia, they did well to stick to an aggressive plan of going after the Indian bowling from the word go at Rajkot. Bailey will take positives from the fact that Aaron Finch is in fine nick and will be the key for the visitors. The skipper will also bank on the experienced duo of Shane Watson and Brad Haddin to pave the way for a relatively young side. If Watson gets going on Sunday, the hosts could be in for a tough fight.
The stadium in Pune has seen just one international fixture so far — a T20 between India and England in which Yuvraj Singh’s all-round heroics helped the hosts notch a victory.
When the teams take the field on Sunday, Yuvraj will be the cynosure of all eyes once again after having made a scintillating comeback in the T20 side, scoring 77 off just 35 balls in India’s six-wicket win over Australia in the Rajkot T20.
Both these sides may be ranked one and two in ODIs but the visitors have a lot of work to do if they are to knock India off the perch in the ICC rankings.
For the visitors, it is a great chance for the likes of Nathan Coulter-Nile and Glenn Maxwell to prove their worth in their bid for a Test spot for the return Ashes.
As for the hosts, Rohit Sharma will hope to start on a positive note in the company of Shikhar Dhawan at the top. Ravichandran Ashwin, who was taken apart in the T20, will also look to redeem himself in the first ODI. MS Dhoni has a lot of slow bowling options at his disposal in Yuvraj and Ravindra Jadeja to fill in during the middle-overs.
The momentum will surely be with India but Bailey’s side will be more than mere pushovers. They have already showcased their aggressive intent and one can expect them to carry that into the ODI series.
India (probable): Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni (c & wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, R Vinay Kumar, Ishant Sharma.
Australia (probable): Aaron Finch, Adam Voges, Shane Watson, George Bailey (c), Glenn Maxwell, Brad Haddin (wk), Moises Henriques, Nathan Coulter-Nile, James Faulkner, Clint McKay, Xavier Doherty.