By Vineet Malhotra
Last week, Australian cricket team arrived in Chennai for their Qantas Tour of India. So, what is India's strategy for the upcoming series?
Indian opener Shikhar Dhawan, after his patchy form and unsure future in the Indian team, cemented his place post a sublime performance against the meek Sri Lankan team. But he won't be playing the initial matches of the series against Australia and that is disappointing given his sporadic genius against the Aussies.
Shikhar Dhawan has been allowed to miss the first three ODIs against Australia, with the series starting on September 17, to attend to his ailing wife. The left handed opener had missed the last few games against Sri Lanka to be by the side of his mother who had been going through health issues. BCCI has not named any replacement for Dhawan. (indianexpress.com)
The team, on the other hand, seems to be on a high after savouring the complete destruction of the Lankan team in a 9-0 sweep. But the real question is whether the home team will be able to showcase the same dominance against a crafty Aussie side that is known to have caused trouble at home for the men in blue.
In a 5 ODI and 2 T20 bilateral series, the task is cut out for both the captains. Although the presence of Dhoni should lend a credible value to Virat Kohli who more often than not has consulted the veteran off and on the field for dubious decisions.
"Virat Kohli would want to make sure India beat Australia and the easiest way for him to do that would be to make sure that he is scoring plenty of runs," Michael Clarke said in an interview with India Today. "He is aggressive and he probably has a team now that is really following his leadership style and there are a number of players that have been looking for that aggressive approach." "Experience of MS Dhoni should not be underestimated, not only in regards to Virat and the rest of the team," he added (indiatoday.intoday.in)
The Australian side though has a formidable record in bilateral series (4-3) against India but that is not something the captain will be worried about. The recent victory against the Lankans and the rankings battle will spruce up the contest and competition that was missing from the drab show against Sri Lanka.
Australia sits at the second spot in the ICC ODI rankings with 117 points. India is close behind in the ratings and a few victories in the upcoming bilateral series should clear that up for India.
But the one hurdle that remains to be overcome is the complacency and the easy wins in the recently concluded Sri Lanka series. Another factor could be fatigue as the team has been on a constant roll since the series in West Indies.
Additional conundrum would be the choice of the opening combination as Rohit and Rahane both could fight for a spot to cement their place in the team. As is it will not be easy for the opening duo against the pace attack of the Kangaroos. But in a recent interview, Rohit dismissed any chances of a burnout or tiredness and said that the tournament will be approached like any other.
"We all are used to tight schedules and so much cricket being played. It is not happening now, it has been happening for a while," Rohit said during a promotional event in Chennai. "We understand how to take care of our body. We have specific people like doctor, physio, trainer… all of those who will take care of it and give us the right schedule”.
Considering the warm match, it will be prudent to imagine that the Aussies are not here for anything less than a victory. They plundered Indian Boards President XI with an emphatic 107 win and that should send some signals to the Indian dressing room.
The return of Faulkner and Christian to the Aussie side should also give the hosts something to ponder about as both will be packing some surprise for the Indian side and caution is one word Virat Kohli could always get used to when playing Australia.