If Dhoni & Co win the ODI series opener in Perth today, it will be only their second victory over the hosts in seven attempts Down Under
Perth: After spending an arduous five months Down Under last year trying to defeat Australia, India are back for yet another attempt.
Team India players during their second warm-up tie against Western Australia XI on Saturday. Pic/AFP
Despite not registering a win against the Aussies, the last tour was touted as the turning point for the next generation according to Team Director Ravi Shastri and Test skipper Virat Kohli. While India did make big strides in the longer format, their one-day form remained sketchy. The progress to the World Cup semi-final was a significant achievement, but India failed to register a win against the World Champions in their backyard.
Ever since MS Dhoni led his team to a famous ODI series victory in 2007-08, India have registered only a solitary victory over the Australians in seven attempts. If history is not with the Indians, neither is the schedule. The visitors will need to conquer the hard bouncy tracks of Perth and Brisbane first up.
According to the Australian captain, Steve Smith, this will be a significant advantage. "The WACA and Gabba have been sort of fortresses for us in ODI cricket for a while. Obviously, it's a bit different to what the Indians are used to back home and hopefully we can exploit that," Smith said. However, India have had two warm-up matches to adapt to the conditions and all the batsmen have been among the runs. While the top five are set, Manish Pandey's half-century in the warm-up should propel him to the No 6 spot.
Dhoni is still uncertain about the No 5 and No 6 slots though. "We have yet to figure out who we pick and which batsmen actually fits in," he said. It has to be seen if Dhoni plays the role of a finisher or goes in at No 5 to ensure stability in the middle order.
While the top order looks stable, it is worth noting that only Rohit Sharma has a century against the Australians in these conditions. Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan and Ajinkya Rahane are yet to register a half-century after 13 matches between them against Australia in their backyard.
The bowling attack, however, has a distinctive different look to the one that was so successful at the World Cup. Mohammad Shami and Mohit Sharma's injuries have left Umesh Yadav to partner Ishant Sharma and the likely debutant, Barinder Sran.
The challenge for the new trio will be to take wickets at the top to allow Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja to bowl to the Australian middle order. Taking wickets was the mantra to India's success at the World Cup and a similar approach needs to be replicated if India are to stand a chance against a strong,
powerful and deep Australian batting order.
Dhoni too admitted that the best method to stop the Australians will be to get constant breakthroughs. "We know they play aggressive cricket and the best way to stop them from scoring runs is to take wickets," he said