After beating Australia in the Test series by 2-1, now India will look to create history in the three-match ODI series, which starts from January 12 in Sydney. India became the first Asian side to beat Australia at their backyard in the longest format, earlier on the tour.
The Men in Blue have never defeated the Men in Yellow Down Under in a bilateral ODI series. But Kohli's men have a golden chance to script yet another history. Last year, they became the first Indian men side to triumph in a bilateral ODI series in South Africa. Now, they can also become the first Indian side to win a bilateral ODI series in Australia.
Now, take a look at India's Predicted XI for the first ODI against Australia at SCG:
India's opening batsman, Shikhar Dhawan, somehow, gets lost in front of the glitz that Rohit and Virat command in white-ball cricket. But he has also been quite exceptional for India in the last few years. The Delhi southpaw has averaged close to 50 in the last two calendar years with a strike-rate in excess of 100. Dhawan is someone who gets the ball rolling for India in an aggressive manner and is a very significant part of India's batting outfit.
India's vice-captain and the master of 200s, Rohit Sharma has been in marvelous form in 50-overs cricket. He scored 1,293 and 1,030 runs respectively in the last two calendar years at an average of more than 70. This modern-day batsman is at the peak of his powers and given his track record (1,143 runs at 51.95) Down Under, he will be a major threat for the Aussies.
Virat Kohli (C)
If India wins this bilateral ODI series in Australia, it will be another feather in the cap of India's skipper. But for that, Kohli needs to be at his best with the bat in the format he has already made his own. The 30 years old averages 59.84, which is unparalleled in one-day cricket. He would love to take off from where he left last year in ODIs. In 2018, India's no.3 averaged a Bradman-esque 133.56 and will be the kingpin of India's batting.
With an average of 56 since his comeback to India's ODI side, Ambati Rayudu would look to further consolidate his position in the team. We have seen how fickle team management has been when it comes to ODI team selections. They love playing musical chairs, so the Hyderabad batsman needs to keep scoring consistently to strengthen his position in the side, where a few failures can lead him to a dead end.
Jadhav keeps getting injured every now and then. But the 33 year-old is the only specialist batsman in India's top six who call roll over his arms effectively. And that makes him a very useful player for India. He can also fulfill the role of a finisher well. The Pune cricketer is street-smart and can play innovative shots in slog overs.
MS Dhoni (WK)
Dhoni might be extremely useful to the team in "n" number of ways but batting, which we assume also matters quite a lot, has been something he has clearly struggled at. In the last three calendar years, twice he has averaged in the 20s with the bat. 2018 was an absolute disaster for him. He needs to get to his groove otherwise he will continue being a liability in the batting department of a team that is in desperate need of some firepower from their lower-middle order batsmen.
Saurashtra all-rounder, Ravindra Jadeja will play a big role in the team, especially if Hardik Pandya is ruled out of the series, which is very likely after he got embroiled in an off-field controversy. Jadeja has been impressive since his comeback to the ODI side. He needs to turn up big time if he wants to cement his place in the side.
In absence of Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar will lead India's pace-battery. He didn't get to play in the Test series but he is an important part of the ODI side. Bhuvi has evolved into a great death bowler for India and is counted among world's best bowlers in that regard. The right-armer has also added power to his batting, of late, and can be a decent bet at no.8 for India with the willow in hand.
India's chinaman spinner, Kuldeep Yadav has been the show stealer in the last year. He scalped 21 wickets in six innings in South Africa, claimed nine wickets in England and now Australia will be on his list of casualties. The youngster is more dangerous away from home. His bowling average and economy rate reduce considerably outside India. He averages 18.09 away in comparison to 24.75 at home. And his economy reduces from 5.67 to 4.32 overseas, which means he is going to be a big headache for the Men in Yellow.
With 94 wickets in 52 ODIs, Mohammed Shami has an impressive ODI record. The 28 years old was one of India's best bowlers in 2015 World Cup. But since then he has played just five ODIs. Shami made his comeback in the 50-overs format in India's last ODI series against West Indies and there ended up with figures of 2/81 and 1/59, which wasn't too impressive. The Amroha-born pacer needs to perform well otherwise talented youngsters like Mohammed Siraj are making the right noises for selection in the XI.
Rajasthan pacer Khaleel Ahmed brings variety to India's pace battery with his left-arm bowling. The 21 years old has been decent in the first six ODIs that he has played so far for India. But, let's see how he does in Australia, where he can be targeted owing to his inexperience. But he is a definite starter in the opening ODI for India.