Hyderabad, March 2: After two closely contested T20 which India loosed to Australia, it's time for ODI series to begin. Keeping the World Cup in mind, this series will be like to get the ideal eleven
Five. That's the number of ODIs India play between now and the start of the World Cup. Though most Indian players will be in action during the IPL, the selectors need to have more or less firmed up their picks before that. So, when India face Australia in the first ODI of the five-match series on Saturday in Hyderabad, it will be another chance for the likes of KL Rahul and Vijay Shankar to push their cases forward.
The same holds true for Siddarth Kaul in the bowling department. Kaul replaced Khaleel Ahmed, who had been part of India's limited-overs set-up since making his debut at the Asia Cup last year. But now it looks like the selectors are exploring other options as well.
Australia has its own World Cup auditions to run. With Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood rested, and Pat Cummins enjoying a purple patch that makes him a World Cup certainty, the floor is now open for Jhye Richardson, Jason Beherendorff and Nathan Coulter-Nile to slug it out for the last vacant fast bowlers' spot. The breathing space for this bunch is marginally more, considering Australia has five more ODIs to play after this series - against Pakistan in UAE.
For all the World Cup aspirants across the two teams that need to turn the attention of the selectors, a fast start will be key. If the opportunity comes as early as Hyderabad, their fate will rest in how they go in the opening ODI of the series.
Virat Kohli said he was ready to drop down to the no. 4 spot if Ravi Shastri and the team management ask that of him. Should that materialize, India could consider trying KL Rahul - who Kohli rates very highly - at No.3 in favor of Ambati Rayudu who was to originally bat at No.4.
Jasprit Bumrah, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, and Mohammed Shami could be the four front line bowling options, with Kedar Jadhav and Vijay Shankar sharing the burden of the fifth bowler's quota.
Probable XI: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, KL Rahul/Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni, Vijay Shankar, Kedar Jadhav, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Yuzvendra Chahal
Carey, who didn't find a place in the playing XI during the T20Is, will return to his position behind the stumps. With Shaun Marsh unavailable, Australia may hand an ODI debut to Ashton Turner.
Australia (probable): 1 Aaron Finch (capt), 2 Usman Khawaja, 3 Peter Handscomb, 4 Marcus Stoinis, 5 Glenn Maxwell, 6 Ashton Turner, 7 Alex Carey (wk), 8 Adam Zampa, 9 Pat Cummins, 10 Jason Behrendorff, 11 Jhye Richardson