Sunday, October 17, Kochi
Start time 9:00 am (0330 GMT)
The Big Picture
Michael Clarke will lead Australia in the ODIs, and he'll feel the pressure. There has been an intense debate in Australia about the future, including captaincy. There appear to be three camps: Ponting loyalists, Clarke aficionados and the anyone-but-Clarke club. The third should worry Clarke. His poor performance in the Tests this tour has added more fuel to critics who believe Clarke rarely performs when the team needs it. Australian captains have been tough; Clarke is seen as a bit of a show pony by his critics. This three-match series will give him another opportunity to silence them.
In India, there is no such debate. There are those who put MS Dhoni's success down to luck but they haven't reached a critical mass. And even they can't put forward an alternative name for captain. Former India batsman Sanjay Manjrekar put it thus: "Dhoni is a guy who does things that are supposed to be done and leaves the rest to fate. He doesn't try to control everything. That is his greatest strength. If you watch Sachin Tendulkar in comparison, he tries to control everything."
The series will be a contest between two men - one itching to prove that he is the man for the future, and one whose future in the pantheon of successful Indian captains is already secure. If only the weather allows them. Australia haven't been able to practice in Kochi, the venue of the first ODI. Their players, during this time, have been tweeting about spending their time in the gym and wishing the rain would stop.
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Watch out for...
Just when Callum Ferguson was establishing himself in the ODI line-up and looking ahead to securing a place in the Tests, he twisted his knee in the Champions Trophy final and had to sit out for a while. The Champions League, the Twenty20 tournament in South Africa, was his comeback and he starred with two half-centuries, finishing fifth on the tournament run tally. The best thing going for him is that there seems to be almost no one in Australia who doesn't rate him highly. This ODI series should help him kick-start his ambitions and others' hopes.
R Ashwin's time has surely come. A stable head, calm temperament and rapidly developing skill-set puts him right up there in the reckoning for a spot in the playing XI. The all-round development has been visible: He developed a carrom ball and has now honed it to perfection, he uses the crease more intelligently and has already developed a reputation of bowling in the Powerplays. His development hasn't gone unnoticed. "He is used to bowling in the Powerplays. He is an aggressive bowler, he has the variety and he is always ready to bowl whenever you throw the ball to him," Dhoni said at the end of the Champions League. "He wants to perform; he has grown as a player over the last three IPLs."
Shikhar Dhawan, the only surprise call-up in the Indian squad for the series, is likely to make his ODI debut.
India (probable): 1 M Vijay, 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Suresh Raina, 4 Yuvraj Singh, 5 Virat Kohli/Rohit Sharma, 6 MS Dhoni (capt and wk), 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 R Ashwin, 9 Praveen Kumar, 10 Ashish Nehra, 11 Munaf Patel.
Australia (probable): 1 David Warner, 2 Tim Paine (wk), 3 Michael Clarke (capt), 4 Callum Ferguson, 5 Michael Hussey, 6 Shaun Marsh, 7 Cameron White, 8 Steve Smith, 9 James Hopes, 10 Clint McKay, 11 Doug Bollinger.
Pitch and conditions
The unrelenting rain has put the first ODI under threat. We have to wait and watch whether it will clear up in time to allow some play. The consistent rain has affected the pitch preparations and it will be interesting to see how it plays.
Stats and trivia
India have a poor record of chasing against Australia: They have lost 34 games and won only 17 while batting second against them.
MS Dhoni has 225 ODI dismissals as a wicketkeeper and stands sixth in the all-time list. He needs nine more dismissals to go past Ian Healy.
Clarke averages 43.03 in ODIs but it dips against India: he averages 37.83 and has scored one hundred from 25 games against India. He averages 33.88 against the Indians in Australia while it jumps marginally to 38.57 in Indian conditions.
"Boys are just looking at some video footage of the Indian players."
Michael Clarke says his team is using the rain to prepare indoors at the gym and the video room
"We need this rain to stop asap ... I am very frustrated."
David Warner's tweets make it clear that he is desperate for some cricket action.