Virat Kohli MS Dhoni India
Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni will be the driving forces for India in the tri-series against Australia and England and the World CupReuters

The white ball, the coloured clothes, that look of anguish on the bowlers as ball after ball flies to the boundary – India will be happy to return to the format they are most comfortable with, and with that World Cup defence in sight, they will look to make the most of playing against formidable opposition in Australia and England in the tri-series starting on Friday.

India competed quite well against Australia in the recently-concluded four-match Test series, and if they had a better and/or more disciplined bowling lineup, the final result might have been a lot more different than the 2-0 loss.

Plenty, apart from the results, of course, happened in that Test series, with MS Dhoni retiring from the longer form of the game to be able to concentrate fully on the most important job at hand – defending the World Cup title they so remarkably won in Mumbai four years ago.

To do that they will need to get their team balance in Australia and New Zealand conditions absolutely right and for that this tri-series, where they play England and Australia two times each, at the very least, will help.

The same goes for Australia and England as well, particularly the latter, who still seem to struggle when it comes to the shorter formats of the game.

England, bowing to pressure, decided to bench Alastair Cook, leaving it all up to Eoin Morgan to lead the team to an ICC 50-over World Cup title for the first time in their history.

The major problem for England has been their inability to really get going at the top of the innings with the bat -- something that eventually led to Cook being axed -- and with a new-look top order lineup now set to function, only time will tell if it makes any difference when it comes to the eventual scores and with it the inevitable results.

Moeen Ali Ian Bell England
Moeen Ali and Ian Bell will be the opening combination for EnglandReuters

One man who knows the importance of quick runs at the top of the innings is Moeen Ali, who will open the innings for England alongside Ian Bell.

"If we are going to win the World Cup and be a successful one-day side we will need good starts," said Ali. "We need guys in the top three who can set the standards for everyone else and be expansive and take some risks

"Aggressively is probably the only way I can play in one-day cricket. Sometimes I face 30 balls and I feel as though I've faced 50 or 60. It's the natural sort of thing I've done for a few years now. I feel it's the best way for me to play, and if I've got any doubt I just tell myself to go hard and not go into a little shell.

"Naturally I will be aggressive but I had to take my time a little bit yesterday with it being the first game. There were expansive shots when we needed them.

"I will just bat how I normally do and if there's something to hit, I'll hit it. In Sri Lanka I got bowled first ball having a slog. It's not nice to get out first ball but I'd prefer to get out having a go rather than just blocking it."

Those words will be refreshing to hear for an England fan, because for too long, their ODI team has been way too conservative.

Australia Mitchell Starc David Warner Brad Haddin Finch Watson Maxwell
Australia will want the best possible preparation ahead of a home World CupReuters

Conservative is not a word that you usually associate with Australia, though, and with the World Cup happening in their own backyard, expect the team in yellow to make a strong run.

Having won three consecutive World Cup titles in 1999, 2003 and 2007 when their team was made up of unbeatable superstars, Australia will look to get back on that top perch again in the first 50-over World Cup in these shores since 1992.

The tri series, especially when it has three top quality sides, is always a good warm-up for such a big tournament, and while winning the series will be important to a certain extent, more vital will be getting in that crucial match time in these conditions and zoning in on that perfect playing XI.

Carlton Mid Tri-Series Schedule (all matches start at 2.20 pm AEDT, 8.50 am IST, 3.20 am GMT):

Match 1: Friday, 16 January: Australia vs England at the Sydney Cricket Ground

Match 2: Sunday, 18 January: Australia vs India at the Melbourne Cricket Ground

Match 3: Tuesday, 20 January: India vs England at the Gabba, Brisbane

Match 4: Friday, 23 January: Australia vs England at the Bellerive Oval, Hobart

Match 5: Monday, 26 January: Australia vs India at the Sydney Cricket Ground

Match 6: Friday, 30 January: India vs England at the WACA, Perth

Final: Sunday, 1 February at the WACA, Perth

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