Visakhapatnam, Oct 19 : Back in their happy-hunting ground, an upbeat India will look to take the lead against a wounded and depleted Australia in the second ODI here tomorrow after the series-opener was washed out in Kochi.
The three-ODI series has now been reduced to a two-match affair after the first match in Kochi two days ago was abandoned before a ball could be bowled because of heavy rains.
Back-to-back losses in the recently-concluded two-Test series have dented the world champion Australia's pride and they would be looking to get back at the hosts at the Dr Y S Rajasekhara Reddy ADA-VDCA Cricket Stadium tomorrow.
Known for their fighting spirit, Australia have won every one-day series in India since 1998 and the pressure will clearly be on Michael Clarke who had a barren Test series that added fuel to criticism against him.
Clarke will lead a side light on experience after regular skipper Ricky Ponting, all-rounder Shane Watson and pacer Mitchell Johnson were rested from the series, while the fast bowling stocks were further thinned by injuries to Shaun Tait, Ryan Harris and Peter Siddle among others.
For Mahendra Singh Dhoni's men, it is all about carrying on the momentum on a ground where India have won all the two matches they have played.
It was at the same venue that Dhoni had announced his arrival on the big stage with a 123-ball 148 against Pakistan in what was his fifth ODI on April 5, 2005.
Playing hard and true, unlike typical Indian wickets, the Vizag strip saw a total of 654 runs scored with India winning comfortably.
India followed it with a win over Sri Lanka in the second ODI that the stadium hosted on February 17, 2007.
Dhoni did not get a chance to bat then as Yuvraj Singh guided the team home and the Team India skipper would look for another big knock when the match is played here tomorrow for the first time under lights.
Bright and sunny weather here means that the cricket starved crowd of the coastal city in Andhra Pradesh will witness an international match after about four years.
Star players including Sachin Tendulkar and Ponting being rested, the series is seen as a battle of upcoming prospects in the two cricketing powerhouses ahead of the ICC World Cup early next year.
But the team is bolstered by the return of an off-colour but determined Yuvraj Singh, who was dropped for the Asia Cup.
The stylish Punjab batsman, not in best of form, will look to find the rhythm at the same venue where he had scored an unbeaten 95 in India's win over Sri Lanka.
With one more series -- against New Zealand -- coming up, this will perhaps be his last chance to pass the litmus test before the quadrennial extravaganza next year.
In the absence of regular openers, the in-form Murali Vijay will start the proceedings with Shikhar Dhawan looking to don Team India colours as well.
The line-up may also mark the debut of explosive rookie batsman Saurabh Tiwary who played for Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League.
"He has got exposure against the best bowlers in the IPL and CL T20. I think it is an ideal opportunity for us to give him a place in the final XI and let him play the kind of cricket he plays," Dhoni had said.
The side also has the tried and tested trio of Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja, who will again be under scrutiny for the middle order slots.
With little assistance from the Vizag strip, Indian seamers of Ashish Nehra, Munaf Patel, Praveen Kumar and rookie Vinay Kumar will be tested.
In R Ashwin, India have an in-form off-spinner who had a fantastic run in the Twenty20 version helping Chennai Super Kings win the Champions League. It will be a big test for him ahead of the World Cup.
Australia too will have a new-look side, with players like David Warner, John Hastings and Mitchell Starc keen to show an aptitude for Indian conditions.
"This is great experience for a lot of the guys who haven't played international cricket especially in India," said Clarke.
"I think India is one of the greatest places to play international cricket, but it is a challenge, it is hard, and this is where the World Cup is going to be as well.
"There's a lot of guys who've been waiting for an opportunity, been doing well in first-class cricket, but now with Watto, Punter and Mitch resting and the other bowlers being injured, it has given the guys an opportunity.
"Our preparation is for the World Cup, the selectors pick certain guys to see how they go in these conditions to work out who is going to be in that squad.PTI