After a successful Test series against Australia, Indian seamer Jasprit Bumrah was rested for the ODI series, with Siddarth Kaul being included in the squad. But despite the absence of the right-armer, Aussie skipper Aaron Finch insisted that India do not have any weak links. Speaking to reporters at the press conference ahead of the first ODI, the 32-year-old said: “Bumrah has played a huge part for their one-day side, or all their sides. Bhuvneshwar Kumar is someone who has had success at all levels as well. The two spinners have played a huge role in Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal over the last month as well. There’s no real weak links in their side.”
He further added: “They’ve got an extra spin option in the squad with Jadeja, Kedar who can bowl some off-spin. Bumrah has been replaced by Mohammad Siraj with others in the pace department including Khaleel Ahmed and Mohammad Shami.”
The batsman further gave credit to the Virat Kohli’s side for their record in the shorter format away from home. “They (India) have got left, right-arm, spin, leg-spin, off-spin, so they’ve got plenty of options… They play their own conditions very well but I think the amount of times they’re winning away from home in the shorter formats is a credit to them,” he said.
Talking about his strategy going into the match in Sydney, Finch said that it will be crucial for the hosts to dismiss India’s top three batsmen – Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli – cheaply. “Over the last 12 months Virat’s averaged 133, Shikhar 75, and Rohit 50; so there’s a lot of runs and balls faced from their top three. It’s important to get them as early as you can because once they get in, they score fast and they don’t seem to get out too easily,” he said.
But despite India’s slightly untested middle order comprising of Dinesh Karthik, Kedar Jadhav and MS Dhoni, Finch said that they cannot take it any easier against the middle order either. “Dinesh Karthik, Kedar Jadhav, Dhoni these guys that can all play their part as well. The top three are very important but you can’t just look at that otherwise there’s someone else that will catch you off-guard and get the job done as well,” Finch said.
Speaking about his own team combination, the captain said the idea to allow Alex Carey to open the innings could help them in achieving a balance in the side. “It’s just an opportunity to see Alex play in a position he’s done quite bit in Big Bash and one-day cricket. He’s been shuffled around the order a bit in the last little while… we are trying to search for that process and right balance of the side,” he said. “We’ve got three games here which will be very tough then straight to India for five ODIs then Pakistan so that’s a very tough 13 games, then a few warm-up and practice games against New Zealand.”
Despite the absence of Steve Smith and David Warner, Finch said that the Aussies have plenty of side to attain a settled side before the World Cup this year. “These are still best part of 18 games to get that right. While it would have been great to have a settled side for the last 12-18 months it’s still enough time to get it right and make sure come that World Cup that we are ready to go with a really balanced and settled side,” he said.
Speaking on the return of veteran Peter Siddle to the side, Finch said: “For Siddle to go away and work on the skills that he’s brought to the table over the last couple of years in Big Bash cricket is outstanding. He probably went with a real red-ball focus for a long time there and probably neglected the one-day skills. Then to come back and have an eight-week period last year where he just focused on skills for the white ball and how quickly he improved was unbelievable.”
India and Australia will play the first ODI on Friday in Sydney.