An array of stars will be on show during the five match India-Australia ODI series, which starts on Tuesday at the WACA in Perth. Both teams comprise of some quality bowlers and batsmen, which include Virat Kohli, R Ashwin, Steve Smith and Josh Hazlewood.
India and Australia are aware of the importance of winning the first ODI, to help them gain confidence and momentum for the remainder of the series. There is nothing much to choose between the two sides as far as their batting is concerned, with both teams possessing some world-class stroke players, while the Australia bowlers, who are acquainted with bowling in fast and bouncy pitches, have an edge over the India seamers.
Here is a look at some key players from both teams for the 1st ODI.
Virat Kohli – The India batsman has been one of the most prolific run-scorers for India in the last couple of years, and needs to score consistent runs in this series for his team to win. Kohli has a good batting record Down Under, as he has scored 620 runs in 18 matches with a strike rate of 84.01. With Kohli being a good player against fast bowlers as well, the vice-captain will hold the key for India. Kohli, who can change gears according to the situation, loves to take on the bowlers, which makes him a dangerous batsman.
MS Dhoni – The man from Jharkhand, who has established himself as one of the greatest finishers in the game, will play an integral role in the batting lineup. Dhoni has a healthy overall average of 46.76 against Australia, and the skipper needs to showcase his skills with the bat once again. Apart from his batting, Dhoni's leadership will also need to come to the fore, especially while making those crucial bowling and fielding changes.
Ishant Sharma – The Delhi bowler will now be looked at as the fast bowling spearhead for India, following the injury to Mohammad Shami, who has been ruled out of the series with a hamstring problem. Ishant, who bowls at a decent pace, has the height to attain bounce from the WACA pitch in Perth. Ishant, who missed the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, will be eager to bend his back and trouble the Aussie batsmen.
Steve Smith – The Australia captain is one of the most talked about batsmen in world cricket at present. Hence, it goes without saying that Smith will be the man towatch for Australia in the ODI series. India bowlers know all about Smith's prowess, as the right-hander scored 105 runs in the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup semifinals to oust them from the competition. Smith, who has not scored a century in the ODI format since that knock, is due for a big score, making him even more dangerous.
David Warner – The Australia opener is one of the most aggressive batsmen in world cricket and has the special ability to take the game away from opposition in the first 15-20 overs of the game. The left-hander has a healthy strike rate of 95.93 against India, even if his overall average is only 28.50. However, if Warner gets his act going in the ODI series, India will have a long day in the field.
James Faulkner – The Aussie will play an important role for the home team as the all-rounder during the series. Faulkner, who bowls a decent line and length, plays an important part down the order for Australia, as the right hander can score some quick runs in the latter stages of the innings. India are well aware of his big-hitting skills as Faulkner thrashed India bowlers all around the park,, scoring his maiden century in Bangalore in November, 2013. Faulkner has an impressive strike rate of 149.42 in his nine matches against India so far. His bowling performance against India has been decent as well, with eight wickets in nine matches.