India v Australia preview: Aussies assemble strong line-up in vital World Cup tune-up series

By Sports Desk March 16, 2023

India and Australia will renew their rivalry following a gripping Test series with a three-match One-Day International series starting Friday.

It offers an ideal precursor for this year's World Cup, hosted by India in October and November, with both nations eager to rip the title off 2019 winners England.

Australia have assembled a strong squad for the tune-up series, where Steve Smith will lead the tourists as skipper, with Pat Cummins remaining at home following the death of his mother last week.

David Warner returns from the fractured elbow that prematurely ended his Test series, while big-hitting all-rounders Mitchell Marsh and Glenn Maxwell are also back following long-term ankle and leg injuries.

They are two of several all-rounders in the squad as Australia search for the best mix for their World Cup side, with Cameron Green, Marcus Stoinis, Sean Abbott and Ashton Agar in contention.

"We've gone in with a structure with eight batters to bat a little bit deeper, we've tried that," said Australia coach Andrew McDonald.

"There'll be a mix of combinations as we lead into the World Cup. A lot of all-rounders [have been] picked in the squad and they can all play in the one team, so we've got to answer a few of those questions."

India captain Rohit Sharma will miss the opening ODI at Wankhede Stadium due to family reasons, with Hardik Pandya to lead the side in his absence, while Shreyas Iyer has been ruled out of the series with a back injury.

Fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah will also be absent due to a long-term back injury.

It is difficult to establish any form lines given the disjointed nature of ODIs, but India have won their last seven matches against Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and New Zealand, while the tourists have won nine of their last 10 (L1), including their last six on the bounce, having secured a 3-0 win against England in their last ODI series.

India's imposing home ODI record

India are always a difficult assignment at home, having won their last seven home multi-game bilateral ODI series, along with 13 of their last 14.

However, Australia are the side responsible for that one defeat, winning 3-2 in March 2019 in India where Usman Khawaja was Player of the Series.

Warner not a spent force

Warner may be in the twilight of his international career, with speculation about his future in the Test side, but he is not a spent force in white-ball cricket and is targeting this year's 50-over World Cup.

The 36-year-old is one century away from 20 ODI hundreds, with only Ricky Ponting (29) boasting more for Australia. The left-handed opener has scored 50 or more in six of his past eight ODIs against India.

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