The last time India played an international match was in February. It is after an eight-month break that the team is entering the playfield and the opponents are the mighty Aussies, one of the toughest in this format. Captain Kohli and his men will have to play their best cricket against the Men in Yellow who have gone from strength to strength in the past few seasons. The Aussies, a pale shadow of what they were in the past, still looks formidable enough to pose many challenges to the travelling side.

Team India will have to field their best possible combination throughout the series to stand up to the task. But before that, we must understand the gaps that the team would need to fill. What are they? Let’s analyse them one by one.

Opening slot: Gill or Mayank?

The absence of Rohit Sharma presents a big opportunity for reserve openers Mayank Agarwal and Shubman Gill to stake their claims. Rohit has been highly successful against the Aussies. His absence will certainly form a huge void while Mayank and Gill does not have the wealth of experience in ODIs. The fact that they are replacing a consistent performer would certainly be in their minds.

Over-reliance on top three:

Team India in the past relied heavily on the top three batters and their contributions are key in winning matches. A decent performance from Dhawan’s opening partner is necessary to stand a chance to win the series. A large portion of the runs scored by India is from the top three. When they failed, the rest of the unit misfired many a times. The addition of Shreyas Iyer and KL Rahul does make the middle-order more flexible than in the past.

Sixth bowling option:

India does not have the luxury of an extra bowler as Hardik Pandya is not fit enough to bowl. Sixth bowler is crucial in ODIs as they help maintain the team balance. Aussies have Glenn Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis in addition to Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne as their frontline batsmen who can bowl a few overs. In comparison, India have only Jadeja in the first seven batsmen with bowling skills. This is certainly one area where the Team will have to address.

Third seamer:

Navdeep Saini and Shardul Thakur are consistent in domestic cricket but their inconsistent shows in the previous tours and they often leak runs especially at the death might worry skipper Kohli. Team needs the third seamer to complement Bumrah and Shami because The Aussies are fielding their best three – Cummins, Hazzlewood and Starc. It is highly likely that Saini might don the pacer’s role in the initial part of the series.

Challenge ahead:

The team batting certainly looks fine with the likes of Rahul, Iyer, Hardik and Dhawan to share the responsibilities along with Kohli. 2019 World Cup has been a big lesson for Team India regarding the team selection. Kohli’s men will have to play competitive cricket throughout the series to emerge winners.

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