The five-match ODI series between India and Australia, which is set to begin on Tuesday at the WACA in Perth, will be India's first challenge this calendar year. The India-Australia cricket series, which has witnessed some high-quality contests along with some controversies in the past, has gradually become one of the most fierce rivalries.
Last year, in coloured clothing, India played Australia in three ODIs, with the home team winning two games, including the crucial 2015 ICC World Cup semifinals as well. One match at Sydney Cricket Ground was abandoned due to rain. Australia had also defeated India in a World Cup warm-up match.
Prior to India's visit Down Under, the Aussies had travelled to India in 2013 for a seven-match ODI series, with the home team clinching the series 3-2. Two matches were abandoned due to rain during the series. Australia, during that series in 2013 were captained by George Bailey, who is aware of the rivalry between the two countries in recent years.
"We have got a rich history and a really strong rivalry with India. We have fought some fierce battles, both in India and here over the last few years. They have played some very strong, aggressive brand of cricket in much as the same way as we do," PTI quoted Bailey as saying.
The Australia team have made some changes to their squad, after winning the 2015 World Cup. Michael Clarke, who was their captain then, retired from the game with Steve Smith taking over the captaincy.
The present Australia squad, which will face India, has a few new faces in Joel Paris and Scott Boland.
"We have to be at our best, some young guys have come in after the change of guard post the World Cup but the rivalry will be as strong," said Bailey.
Australia, who are masters at home, will be a tough nut to crack for team India, but MS Dhoni and co. will be eager to start the year on a bright note. Australia's record at home is impeccable as was witnessed in the last World Cup, where the Aussies did not lose a single game in home conditions en route to their fifth World Cup title. The only game they lost at the CWC was to New Zealand, but that was at the Kiwis' own backyard.
"It is a big deal for them to try and beat us and particularly away from home. We have got a great record in one-day cricket, including the World Cup. But there has been huge amount of changes to the side which played that World Cup final," added Bailey.