1. Team News: India
With Jasprit Bumrah rested and if Pandya is not available Ravindra Jadeja may step into the all-rounder's role. He would partner up with left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav as India's five-pronged attack, with Kedar Jadhav fulfilling the part-time bowling duties. With the two openers Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma followed by Kohli at number three, the remaining batting line-up picks itself. Jadhav, MS Dhoni and Ambati Rayudu will form the middle-order, and there will be keen interest in the latter duo's form here.
2. Focus on Dhoni, Rayudu
Dhoni had an off-colour 2018, managing 275 runs in 20 ODIs at 25 without a half-century. While this is a meagre return for a batsman of his stature, the worrying aspect is Dhoni's strike-rate of 71.42, which is remarkably lower than his ODI career strike-rate of 87.89. The Indian middle-order has often come unstuck with Dhoni at the crease, and the team management will be hoping for a reversal. India brought in Rayudu for the all-important number four role, and since the Asia Cup last September, have given him a long run in the middle order. In this interim, Rayudu scored 392 runs in 11 ODIs in the Asia Cup and against West Indies at 56 including a hundred and three half-centuries. While he put in a more consistent showing than any of the other previously tried contenders, this run came in conditions different from those in England. As such, how Rayudu fares on this twin tour of Australia and New Zealand will be a closer representation of whether the Indian team has finally cracked the number four quandary.
3. India's poor ODI record
India's ODI record in Australia is quite poor. Apart from the 1985 World Championship and 2008 CB Series wins, they have lost 35 out of 48 ODIs played against Australia on their home soil. But the absence of David Warner (220 runs in three matches in 2016) and Steve Smith (315 runs in five matches in 2016) might help them again though, as also the absence of Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood, with the trio rested from this series.
4. Team News: Australia
Australia have named their playing eleven ahead of the first ODI, with Nathan Lyon featuring as the lone spinner and Peter Siddle returning to this format for the first time since 2010. Keeper-batsman Alex Carey will open in ODI cricket for the first time, and will pair up with skipper Aaron Finch, while Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh and Peter Handscomb will form the middle order. The hosts bat deep with Marcus Stoinis and Glenn Maxwell lined up at numbers six and seven, albeit their pace attack seems weak on paper.
The match will be live on Sony Sports Network from 7.50 AM IST. It will also be streamed live on SONY LIV and you can also follow the live updates on MyKhel.
India: Virat Kohli (C), Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan, Ambati Rayudu, Dinesh Karthik, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Khaleel Ahmed, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj.
Australia (playing XI): Aaron Finch (C), Alex Carey (wk), Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, Peter Handscomb, Marcus Stoinis, Glenn Maxwell, Nathan Lyon, Peter Siddle, Jhye Richardson, Jason Behrendorff.