The Indian cricket team will be in action after a long gap of nine months when they take on Australia in a full-fledged series Down Under. Starting with three ODIs from November 27, the tour will also consist of three T20 Internationals along with four Tests.
Dubbed as one of the most awaited series amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the ODIs and the T20Is will be played in front of sell out crowds for the first time since the pandemic halted all cricketing action across the world. The first ODI will be played at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG), as Virat Kohli will hope to start on a winning note.
Here are the five Indian players who could be the key in the ODI series.
With vice captain Rohit Sharma not a part of the white ball series as he is nursing a hamstring injury, the onus will be on captain Virat Kohli to lead the charge with the bat. Regarded as one of the best players in the current generation, the Indian skipper has scored the third highest runs against Australia among the Indian players. He has amassed 1910 runs in 40 ODIs against the mighty Kangaroos and is behind only Rohit Sharma and Sachin Tendulkar in the list. He also has the second most hundred against the Aussies among the Indians against Australia, and is just one hundred short of equalling Tendulkar’s tally of nine hundreds against them.
The wicket keeper batsman has been named as the vice-captain of the Men in Blue in the absence of Rohit Sharma. The right hander will also keep wickets for the team, and will have a crucial role. He was in great form at the start of the year, and he carried his form into the recent edition of the Indian Premier League 9IPL) as well, where he ended as the highest run scorer with 670 runs. The Kings XI Punjab skipper anchored the innings to perfection match after match for his franchise. He is expected to bat in the middle order in the ODIs – a role that he has played to perfection in his limited chances.
Spinner Yuzvendra Chahal has been the go-to man for Virat Kohli over the last few years and will once again be the key when his team plays in the tough conditions Down Under. The 28-year old has impressed with his consistency and his accuracy, and he is expected to pip Kuldeep Yadav to make the XI on a regular basis. Chahal was in top form in the recent IPL, where he ended up with 21 wickets in 15 matches, and helped guide his team Royal Challengers Banaglore into the top four. Though Chahal has just played seven 50-over games against Australia, he has managed to pick up 15 wickets against them. He had picked up 6 for 42 in his quota of 10 overs in the 3rd ODI against Australia during the 2018-19 tour, which stands as his best figures in the format.
The fast bowler was the most successful bowler for India in the format in 2019, and he is expected to unsettle the opponents with his bouncers and his yorkers yet again. Shami has raw pace and has the knack of picking up wickets in crucial moments. He is the third highest wicket-taker for India among active cricketers against Australia in the format, with 25 scalps in 17 ODIs that he has played against them. He is yet to pick up a five-wicket haul, however, as his best figures against them as 4 for 63.
The fast bowler did not play in the 2018-19 ODI series against the Australians, but was the player to watch out for in the subsequent Test series that has followed. He will once again spearhead the pace bowling attack for the side that lacks an experienced third seamer in the ranks. The Mumbai Indians pacer had a memorable outing in the recent IPL, picking up wickets throughout the innings, and troubling players with his pacey yorkers. He has picked up 18 wickets against the Australians in 14 ODIs and has economical figures against them as well.
The Karnataka batsman had a stellar run in the IPL that was held in the UAE, but he does not have the greatest record for the Men in Blue while playing in the format. However, he can be a strong contender for the opener’s role, especially in the absence of Rohit. He has pitched in with decent showings in domestic List A games and has the ability to do well in the tough conditions.