India travel down under after a hiatus of a month and will challenge Australia in 5 ODIs and 3 T20Is. Back in 2014, around the same time, Aussies left India severely wounded as they inflicted a 2-0 Test defeat on them, and went on to win the Carlton Mid ODI Tri-Series.
During the Tests, Steve Smith gave India nightmares as he amassed a serious amount of runs. Kohli was equal to the task at hand but was rendered helpess as more than half the side underperformed, which accounted for the crushing series loss. Back then, Dhoni complained of fatigue as a factor that resulted in the downfall (now, that might not be the case). India's woes that Aussie summer continued as Dhoni felt the heat and stepped down as Test skipper, handing over the reins to a poised and raring to go Virat Kohli. Newly christened as captain, Kohli continued his splendid run and managed to square the remaining two Tests to a pair of draws.
A year later, these two arch rivals will go mano-a-mano once again to stake their claim as to who will be a better ODI ensemble. The last time these two sides met was in a crunch semi-finals; emotions were running high, and entire nations had pinned their hopes on their teams. Although Australia won that high intensity match, India had exceeded everyone's expectations to even reach that point in the tournament. Australia were rampant throughout and the match eventually turned out to be a fairly one sided contest.
In the ODI arena, both these sides have been equally competent and have gone about their purpose with the same vigour and intent, though with differing results. India, in their last outing, battled tooth and nail up until the last ODI where they got mauled. The trio of de Kock, de Villiers and du Plessis plundered runs as they enjoyed a run-fest which weakened and collapsed the scoreline to 3-2, making it look a lot worse. The Aussies, on the other hand, edged out England 3-2 and restored order to the scheme of things after being humiliated to an Ashes loss.
Brad Haddin, Mitchell Johnson, Michael Clarke, Shane Watson and Mitchell Starc, all of whom were part of the World Cup winning squad back when these two sides last met, have either retired, been ignored or are injured. The onus of the attack then rests in the hands of Hazlewood who has considerable experience under his belt, while new entrants in Joel Paris and Scott Boland will be tried and tested. All-rounder Glenn Maxwell is the lone spinner, and seaming all-rounders Mitch Marsh and James Faulkner complete the bowling attack. Each Aussie side has been powerful and dominant in its own sense and expect this side to emit and bring that same fire to the table. India on the other hand will look to avenge that semi-final defeat, though it may not be of the same magnitude but a series win in their enemies’ backyard will mean no less.
India suffered a huge blow a couple of days back as spearhead Mohammad Shami was ruled out of the series with a hamstring injury. Bhuvneshwar Kumar has been brought in as a replacement for him. Ishant Sharma has been a regular part of India's Test plans, but did not feature in any of the warm up games. That leaves Umesh Yadav and debutant Barinder Sran, who did well in India's tour matches, who are sure shots to play in the starting XI. A lot will depend on how the spinners fare. Ashwin and Jadeja are riding on some red hot form. While Ashwin is scaling new heights as a bowler, Jadeja too has reincarnated himself as a force to be reckoned with. Now that Raina has been shown the exit door, Manish Pandey is likely to get the nod ahead of Gurkeerat Singh after his composed knock of 58 against Western Australia. The rest of the side has more or less the same look and feel to it as the one which faced Australia in the semi-final.
This series will be marked as a stepping stone for each team to get into their zone and achieve that psychological advantage that could culminate in WT20 glory. The stage is set and both of these heavyweights will want to put their best foot forward. This much anticipated match will occur on the 12th of January. Watch all the drama and excitement unfold on HoldingWilley as well as on our social media channels.