Hyderabad: Getting the combination right for the World Cup will be the central theme when India take on Australia in a five-match ODI series starting here on Saturday.
India were whitewashed 0-2 in the T20 series by the Aussies. But after the two games, skipper Virat Kohli said it won’t impact much as the team is hellbent on experimenting with the XI to see which combination would work best in England and Wales this summer.
“Every team will look to fine-tune whatever they need to before the World Cup, and we’ll keep doing that in the ODI series too, but we still want to win every match we play,” skipper Kohli had said after the Bengaluru T20 loss.
In the Indian probable 15-member squad, there are two slots which are still to be claimed and the four contenders are K.L. Rahul, Rishabh Pant, Vijay Shankar and Siddarth Kaul.
Dinesh Karthik, who has fallen out of favour of late, will also believe he has an outside chance.
Since returning to the mix after his comments on a TV show led to his expulsion, Rahul has given a good account of himself in the two T20s with scores of 50 and 47.
All eyes will also be on Pant, who hasn’t been consistent in the shorter formats but has the talent to take the game away from the opposition on his day.
For Vijay Shankar, Hardik Pandya’s fitness and his form could be an opening for him but the Tamil Nadu all-rounder needs to improve his bowling.
Kaul is a wild card and could get a look in with the management still trying with Khaleel Ahmed.
With Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah being automatic choices, Kaul will probably get two games to prove his worth.
Coming to the series, the Australians will be high on confidence after the T20 series win. But the 50-over format will be a different challenge altogether for the visitors.
India will welcome back Ambati Rayudu, veteran all-rounder Kedar Jadhav and Shami in the mix.
Also, the formidable wrist spin pair of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal will be operating in tandem to add pressure.
The Aussies, buoyed by the maiden T20 triumph over India, will be eager to continue the momentum they have gained.
India: Virat Kohli (c), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Ambati Rayudu, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wk), Kedar Jadhav, Vijay Shankar, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Rishabh Pant, Siddarth Kaul, KL Rahul, Ravindra Jadeja.
Australia: Aaron Finch (c), D’Arcy Short, Shaun Marsh, Marcus Stoinis, Usman Khawaja, Alex Carey, Peter Handscomb, Ashton Turner, Adam Zampa, Jason Behrendorff, Jhye Richardson, Pat Cummins, Andrew Tye, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Nathan Lyon.