Stand-in Indian skipper, Hardik Pandya won the toss and opted to bowl first in the first of the three-match ODI series against Australia. In a year where the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup is going to be held in India, this fixture is being contested at the same venue which witnessed the nation’s grandiose coronation back in 2011 – Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium.
With Rohit Sharma being unavailable for personal reasons, Ishan Kishan will be opening the batting for India, alongside the player in scintillating form, Shubman Gill. Barring Kishan, Shardul Thakur and Kuldeep Yadav have also been provided opportunities to make a case for themselves.
“With this being a World Cup year, the ODI format is important. We've gone with four quicks - Shardul, Shami, myself and Siraj. We have two spinners in Jadeja and Kuldeep,” Hardik said after a rather unique toss, which saw him handing a potted plant to his Australian counterpart, Steve Smith.
With Pat Cummins opting against returning to India following the passing away of his mother, Smith is leading the Aussies. Wicketkeeper-batter, Alex Carey is also down with sickness, leading to the inclusion of Josh Inglis.
“Alex Carey is sick so he has gone home, so Josh Inglis will come in today. David Warner is not yet fully fit, so Mitch Marsh will open the batting,” Steve Smith stated after losing the flip of the coin.
India Playing XI: Shubman Gill, Ishan Kishan(w), Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, KL Rahul, Hardik Pandya(c), Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Siraj, Mohammed Shami.
Australia Playing XI: Travis Head, Mitchell Marsh, Steven Smith(c), Marnus Labuschagne, Josh Inglis(w), Cameron Green, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Sean Abbott, Mitchell Starc, Adam Zampa.
All Eyes On World Cup
In terms of their preparation for the World Cup, India’s story has been a ‘so far so good’ one. The boys in blue have played six 50-over matches this year – three against Sri Lanka and as many against New Zealand – and have won all of them.
This time around, however, the challenge is expected to be a tad sterner, with Australia’s recent run of form in ODI cricket being equally impressive. Whilst they might not have played this format in 2023, it is not an eternity ago that they whitewashed arch-rivals, England, by a 3-0 margin, before inflicting the same damage on their neighbours, England.