India vs Australia 1st ODI: Virat Kohli’s challenge against familiar rival headlines top three player battles
After a scintillating T20I series win over Sri Lanka, Virat Kohli-led India team will face a stiff challenge against Aaron Finch-led Australia team. Australia are entering the contest after series wins over Pakistan and South Africa, and will be riding high on confidence. Kohli’s men will be eager to avenge the home series defeat which they suffered at the hands of Australia last year in January. With India set to travel to New Zealand later this month, it will important for Kohli to win the series and keep the morale high before the away tour.
Here are the top three player battles that are likely to headline the first ODI between the two teams which will take place Tuesday at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai:
Pat Cummins vs Virat Kohli
India captain Virat Kohli missed out on a hundred in the last ODI match he played. Chasing 316 in the 3rd ODI against Sri Lanka, the skipper was dismissed for 85, after being cleaned up by Keemo Paul. Kohli will be eager to get to his 44th ODI ton when he faces off against Australia in the first ODI. But he is likely to face a threat from Aussie seamer Pat Cummins, who has enjoyed bowling against India. The right-arm seamer played 16 ODIs in 2019 in which he picked up 31 wickets at an average of 21.61 and an economy rate of 4.73.
Cummins bowled 49 deliveries to Kohli last year in the 50-overs format, in which he scored 51 runs at a strike rate of 104.1. The seamer managed to dismiss Kohli once in 2019. He will be hoping to do so again at Wankhede.
Rohit Sharma vs Mitchell Starc
Rohit Sharma will be returning to Indian team after he was rested in the T20I series against Sri Lanka. The opener will be eager to start off the series on the right note, especially since the match is being played in his homeground. The India vice-captain was the leading run-scorer in the 50-overs format last year, as he hammered 1,490 runs in 28 matches at an average of 47.30. He scored 7 tons in 2019, the joint-2nd highest by an individual in a calendar year. But Sharma has a tendency to struggle against incoming deliveries, especially the ones bowled by left-arm seamers and a battle against Mitchell Starc will be on the cards in the first ODI.
Starc has dismissed Rohit once in his career so far, and he will be hoping to improve on that record. The left-arm seamer will be eager to dent a blow in India’s top order with the new ball, and Rohit’s wicket will be the ideal way to do so.
Jasprit Bumrah vs Steve Smith
Seamer Jasprit Bumrah will be spearheading India’s fast-bowling department in the series, and the right-arm bowler will be eager to start off the series on a good note. Bumrah, who plays for Mumbai Indians in Indian Premier League, is well aware of the conditions at Wankhede Stadium, and will hope to use it to his advantage. Former Australia captain Steve Smith has enjoyed a great record against India. The right-handed batsman has scored 690 runs in 15 games against India at an average of 52.15 and a strike rate of 98.26.
Smith will be gearing up for Bumrah challenge, and will be hoping to pile runs on the board. Bumrah, on the other hand, will be eager to dent Australia’s middle-order, and Smith’s wicket will certainly help in that department.