As Shikhar Dhawan found form and announced his return to international cricket in style with a half-century against Sri Lanka in the third T20I, India were presented with a fresh dilemma after the debate for the No 4 spot had just seemed to settle down. Who will open the batting for India alongside vice-captain Rohit Sharma in the upcoming ODI series against Australia? Shikhar Dhawan or KL Rahul?
While Dhawan was out with injury for the past couple of months, Rahul was opening the batting with Rohit Sharma and made a strong case for his inclusion in the limited-overs side with some strong performances in the T20I series against Bangladesh and West Indies, followed by the ODI series against Windies. Rahul's scores in the last five matches he has played for India — T20Is and ODIs — are 54, 45, 77, 102 and 6.
Based on current form, Rahul is miles ahead of Dhawan and yet, the latter's scores of 32 and 52 in the recently-concluded T20I series against the Lankans suggests that the team management would be wise to persist with him, given his experience. Moreover, with the World T20 coming up in October this year, Dhawan is likely to be kept in the scheme of things, as his known affinity with ICC events could prove to be a potent weapon for India.
As for the bowlers, India's hungry-for-wickets pace attack led by Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Navdeep Saini is ready to test the Australians with subtle variations.
For the Australians, focus will be on IPL's costliest foreign recruit Pat Cummins, the crafty Kane Richardson and the ever-dependable Mitchell Starc, who will leave no stone unturned to make life uncomfortable for Kohli and his men.
Alex Carey's gutsy batting and faultless glove-work will face the challenge of Rishabh Pant's flair.
The young Marnus Labuschagne, easily the most exciting talent spreading his wings on the international cricket map with some stellar performances in the Test arena, would like to replicate his form in the shorter formats.
The first ODI of the three-match series between India and Australia will be played at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. According to Accuweather, there will be ample sunshine with minimal chance of rain. Although, the conditions are likely to be more hazy than usual due to deteriorating air quality in the area.
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