With Jasprit Bumrah being rested for the Australia series, it will be interesting to see if Mohammed Siraj gets a game ahead of Shami, who had an impressive Test series Down Under. Going into the series, the question in front of skipper Virat Kohli and the team management will be whether to choose experience over fresh talent, or vice versa
The fast-moving pace of international cricket gives no time for players to think about past laurels, especially India’s.
Just a few days back, on January 7, Virat Kohli and his men registered a famous 2-1 victory against the Aussies marking a historic day in Indian cricket as they won their first Test series after 71 long years on Australian soil.
Also read: India to host Australia for 2 T20Is, 5 ODIs
However, the focus now shifts to the much-awaited limited-overs series which will get underway at the iconic Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) on Saturday as the two teams lock horns in the first of the three ODIs.
The series serves both teams a platform for experimentation before the start of the World Cup, which is less than five months away.
This makes the series important for both nations in more ways than one as they will look to answer a few pivotal questions which could eventually help them to get their hands on the coveted trophy in England.
India's last ODI assignment against the Windies may have answered a few questions, but as a team, there are still a few more left which they will look to find answers for in Australia.
MyNation brings to you the five major questions which India seek answers to Down Under.
1. Are India looking at KL Rahul as the third opener?
Rohit Sharma is known to convert hundreds into 'daddy' hundreds and single-handedly win games for India. On the other hand, Shikhar Dhawan had done reasonably well in the Asia Cup last year but failed to convert his starts into big scores against the Windies in the home series.
In these circumstances, if at all, one of the two settled openers is out of form, Rahul is seen as the replacement. With just 13 ODIs left before the World Cup, there isn't much time left for experimentation and it looks like the selectors are showing faith in Rahul’s ability. However, it will be interesting to see if he gets to spend time in the middle.
2. Middle order conundrum
The second area of concern for India remains the middle-order, which is the champion side's soft underbelly. For the No 5 spot, Manish Pandey, Dinesh Karthik, and Rishabh Pant seem to be in the race. Interestingly, for the upcoming series against the Aussies, Karthik has been chosen ahead of the other two, but it looks more like a rotation policy than anything else.
Going into the World Cup, Karthik should clearly be India's first choice, purely because of his experience and temperament. However, the series against men-in-yellow will probably shape in favour or against him.
3. Who is going to bowl in Bhuvi-Bumrah's absence?
The Asia Cup, which was held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) last year made everyone believe that left-armer Khaleel Ahmed will feature in India's playing eleven as the third pacer, supporting Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah. However, if at all India go with an extra pacer, then it would be a choice between Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Siddarth Kaul, and Mohammad Siraj.
With Bumrah being rested for the Australia series, it will be interesting to see if Siraj gets a game ahead of Shami, who had an impressive Test series Down Under. Going into the series, the question in front of skipper Virat Kohli and the team management will be whether to choose experience over fresh talent, or vice versa.
4. Dinesh Karthik over Rishabh Pant?
Despite the formats being different, this question appears to have been answered for once and for all by the decision to reinstate the MS Dhoni to the T20I lineup for the upcoming series in New Zealand. The selectors have sent out a clear message that Dhoni will be India's first choice wicketkeeper going into the World Cup.
Interestingly, MSK Prasad and Co have shown faith in Karthik's skills ahead of Pant's, and it's almost certain that Karthik may well be asked to keep in the absence of Dhoni.
5. Who will be India's first choice for No 7 spot?
In September last year, the lower middle order showed some resistance against Bangladesh, especially by Ravindra Jadeja who was called as a replacement for the injured Hardik Pandya. With Jadeja having a superlative tournament, both with bat and ball, the selectors continued their faith in him as he has been a part of ODI setup since then.
However, with Hardik Pandya back in the scheme of things, it will be a difficult choice for the skipper to leave in-form Jadeja out. In these circumstances, India will probably look to play one of the two players, according to the pitch conditions, than anything else.
Last Updated 10, Jan 2019, 7:55 PM IST