(MENAFN- IANS) Mohali, Sep 21 (IANS) India's three-match ODI series against Australia, starting in PCA Stadium from Friday, serves as a balancing act for the two teams in vital preparation and fine-tuning their strategies before the Men's ODI World Cup starting in the country from October 5.
With skipper Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Kuldeep Yadav and Hardik Pandya rested for the first two matches, it gives chance to the team think-tank to assess the rest of the players who are certainties, will be on the bench or in some case, become last-minute additions.
India are coming into the series after winning the Asia Cup, a tournament which gave them plenty of positives from players' form and team clicking in unison perspective. But there are some areas where they will be keen to see how some players perform.
With Axar Patel recovering from left quadriceps strain, the attention of onlookers will be around who between off-spin duo of Ravichandran Ashwin and Washington Sundar will be the better option as a replacement if the left-arm spin all-rounder is unavailable for the mega event.
In the batting front, the series against Australia is an opportunity for Shreyas Iyer and Suryakumar Yadav to get some time in the middle and find big runs. Iyer suffered back spasms during the Asia Cup, preventing him from playing after the league stage.
On the other hand, Suryakumar played just once in the competition, sweeping constantly to making 26 off 34 balls in the narrow six-run defeat to Bangladesh. In Rohit's absence, Ishan Kishan is likely to open with Shubman Gill, with Mohammed Shami having a slim chance to play in case team management gives Mohammed Siraj rest.
On the other hand, Australia come into the series after being beaten 3-2 by South Africa. That series loss has shown a few areas of concern for the mighty side, apart from a growing injury list.
The good news for them is, captain Pat Cummins and Steven Smith are fit to take the field on Friday, but Mitchell Starc and Glenn Maxwell, will not be a part of the first match, opening a chance for someone like Matt Short or Tanveer Sangha to get into the mix.
Also, Sean Abbott, Nathan Ellis, Spencer Johnson and Ashton Agar are dealing with niggles. With Travis Head suffering a fractured left hand, he could be likely ruled out of the World Cup, giving more chance to Marnus Labuschagne and Tim David to show their 50-over credentials as a replacement player.
The return of Cummins and Smith strengthens Australia, who see this ODI series a perfect way to prepare for the World Cup, where their opening game opposition is also India. Josh Hazlewood, Adam Zampa and Marcus Stoinis will be aiming to get back into ODI top form on a flat Mohali pitch after being constantly taken for runs in South Africa.
India:KL Rahul (captain & wicketkeeper), Ravindra Jadeja (Vice-captain), Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shubman Gill, Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav, Tilak Varma, Ishan Kishan (wicket-keeper), Shardul Thakur, Washington Sundar, Ravichandran Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj and Prasidh Krishna.
Australia: Pat Cummins (captain), Sean Abbott, Alex Carey (wicket-keeper), Nathan Ellis, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Josh Inglis, Spencer Johnson, Marnus Labuschagne, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Tanveer Sangha, Matt Short, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, David Warner and Adam Zampa.