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Audition for 2019 World Cup: Players from India-Australia series who can seal a ticket to England

India and Australia will look to fill the gaps when they take on each other in the five-match ODI series, starting on Saturday in Hyderabad.

Ranit Das Ranit Das @ranitd94
New Delhi Published on: March 01, 2019 21:03 IST
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India and Australia will play five ODIs against each other

With just three months remaining to the World Cup, teams are looking to iron out the fine details ahead of the mega-event in England and Wales.

And as India and Australia get down to play the five-match series on Saturday, the two teams are at the opposite end of the spectrum when it comes to finalising their squads for the world championship.

While India have more or less a settled squad with two or three places to finalise, Australia still need to get their combination right and with Steve Smith's availability still under doubts, the series against India and the one against Pakistan post it, will be crucial for the defending champions to decide on a number of spots for the World Cup.

Therefore, we take a look at six names from either side for whom, this series could seal a spot for the flight to England or shatter their dreams for the current year.

KL RAHUL (3rd opener)

KL Rahul's case one for the ages really. From being one of the brightest talents around to struggling to find a place in the team after a dismal few months, Rahul's journey has been a topsy-turvy. 

However, the good thing for the 26-year-old is his current form and the good mental space he is in after the whole Koffee with Karan fiasco. Much like Hardik Pandya, Rahul shined on his return to the side in the two T20Is against Australia and is set to get a chance to prove himself in the ODIs as well.

The stylish right-hander scored a 50 in the first game and a breezy 47 in the second and the way he was timing them would give him and the management enough hope going forward.

With little options and time left ahead of the World Cup, the opportunity couldn't have come at a better time for Rahul and a series of impressive performances could see him boarding the plane to England.

RISHABH PANT (2nd keeper/middle-order batsman)

Rishabh Pant is the X-Factor in the Indian team and has the backing of most to go to England but the diminutive wicketkeeper-batsman has done little to seal the deal.

Pant has been explosive at times and impressive when on song but his inconsistency and shortcomings as a fielder, has hampered his case before in ODI cricket.

The 21-year-old was a revelation for India in Test cricket last year but hasn't been able to grab the opportunities with both hands in limited-overs cricket with both hands. With Mahendra Singh Dhoni donning the gloves and Dinesh Karthik doing well as a finisher at every given opportunity, the series could the perfect opportunity to show that he has the temperament to back up his talent at the biggest stage of them all.

VIJAY SHANKAR (All-rounder)

Hardik Pandya's absence will give Vijay Shankar the opportunity to show that he can be a vital cog in India's wheel in pace-friendly conditions at England.

The batting all-rounder has showed in New Zeland that he can bat and hold his own in difficult situations but his bowling remains a concern. Not a regular with the ball, Shankar's biggest test will be to prove that he can give the captain 10 overs with the ball and allow them to play an extra batsman or a second spinner according to the situation.

Not necessarily a replacement for Pandya, Shankar's solidity with the bat and fielding ability could also make him a solid option down the order if India indeed decide to go with an extra batter and one less bowler.

Therefore, Shankar has two fields covered and if he can show that his medium pace is good enough for at least five to six overs in the upcoming five ODIs, the Tamil Nadu cricketer could well go on to stake a claim for a spot in the final 15 for the World Cup.

PETER HANDSCOMB (Middle-order batsman/second wicketkeeper)

Peter Handscomb has looked a much better batsman lately and is one of the best players of spin in the current Australian set-up. With the tracks in England helping the slow bowlers lately, Handscomb presence in the middle-order will be an assuring factor while others can play around him.

With him donning the gloves as well, Handscomb can allow the Aussies to go with one extra batter and solidify their batting, which has struggled to fire in unison since Smith and Warner were suspended.

The 27-year-old also showed in Bengaluru that he can be the perfect foil to an explosive Glenn Maxwell and some more performances like that could easily see him pip the likes of Travis Head, Ashton Turner and Shaun Marsh in the plane to England.

USMAN KHAWAJA (Opener)

Usman Khawaja was one of the wholesale changes Australia made for the series against India and he fared decently out there. While he didn't get too many big scores like a Shaun Marsh, he looked assuring during his stay.

However, with Aaron Finch a certainty at the top and D'Arcy Short being preferred up the order, the series could be pivotal for the southpaw to make a claim for a spot in the squad.

Khawaja's case could also be not helped with the fact that Warner and Smith could return for the World Cup but runs under his belt in the upcoming 10 ODIs against India and Pakistan in UAE, could maybe make his case stronger. But, failures from Short and Marsh would also be necessary for him to make the cut.

JASON BEHRENDORFF (4th pacer)

Australia don't have shortage of options in pace department. Jhye Richardson has stepped up in Josh Hazlewood's absence and Nathan Coulter-Nile has emerged as a senior pacer along with Pat Cummins in the absence of Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc, thus, leaving Behrendorff to do the most amount of hardwork for a place in the squad.

What doesn't help his case is that Starc could be back for the Pakistan ODIs and in Cummins and Coulter-Nile, Australia have decent hitters of the ball down the order while Jhye has proved to be a tough nut to crack for the batsmen.

Behrendorff however, has his own traits and on the bouncy pitches of England, with little the seaming bowl, he could be a lethal weapon towards the beginning of the innings.

Therefore, the series could be a crucial one for 'Big Ben' and any slip ups here, could mean that he is the one, who makes way for Starc in the Pakistan series and ultimately the World Cup.

ODI squads:

India: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli (C), Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni (WK), Kedar Jadhav, Vijay Shankar, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Ravindra Jadeja, Lokesh Rahul, Rishabh Pant, Siddarth Kaul

Australia: Aaron Finch (C), Alex Carey (WK), Usman Khawaja, Peter Handscomb, Ashton Turner, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Pat Cummins, Jhye Richardson, Adam Zampa, Jason Behrendorff, Nathan Coulter-Nile, D Arcy Short, Nathan Lyon, Andrew Tye.

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