Virat Kohli-led Team India currently look like they are on a mission to conquer the cricketing world. In the recently-concluded India vs Sri Lanka series, the Men in Blue ran riot and registered a 9-0 victory over the Lankan Lions in the series consisting of three Tests, five ODIs and a lone T20 International. By doing so, India became the first team to achieve the feat while touring another nation. Now, they have their eyes focused on much bigger competition - Steve Smith's Australians. India, starting September 17, will host the Aussies for five One-day Internationals (ODIs) and three Twenty20 Internationals (T20I).
Keeping in mind the blistering form of the Indian team, they are surely the favourites going into the series. However, the Aussies can never be written off, as they have world-class players in their team and some members have ample sub-continental experience. As Australia and India, the second and third ranked teams respectively in the ODI table, get ready for battle, let's take a quick look at the Australian players who might be obstacles for the Men in Blue:
Steve Smith: Steve Smith, who made his ODI debut in February 2010 against the West Indies, is now considered one of the best batsmen going around in the world currently. The right-hander, though, has not been in the best of form in his last three ODIs, managing only 86 runs which includes a half-century.
However, an impressive strike rate of 87.48 in 98 matches proves that Smith can turn the match on its head at any given point and that is something that the Indians will have to wary of.
David Warner: Being the captain of the Indian Premier League (IPL) team Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH), Warner is very well versed with Indian conditions and is a real threat to the Indian bowlers if he gets going. In IPL 2017, Warner ended the season as the leading run-scorer with 641 in 14 matches, which included a century and four half-centuries.
With 79 runs under his belt in his last three ODIs, Warner may seem to be in a docile state but his comfort with Indian conditions might prove costly for the hosts. Kohli and team will have to make sure to take Warner's wicket early to halt the flow of runs.
Pat Cummins: With Mitchell Starc out of the series, the onus is on Pat Cummins to lead the Australian pace attack. Barring him, Australia will have the services of Nathan Coulter-Nile and Kane Richardson. Cummins bowled only four overs and conceded 15 runs in the team's warm-up match against Board President's XI.
In his last three ODIs, the 24-year-old has picked only two wickets. However, Cummins had 15 wickets to his name in the 2017 IPL season where he represented Delhi Daredevils. With a decent economy rate of 5.54 in the ODIs, Cummins might just be the roadblock which will not let the Indian batsmen dominate the scorecard.
James Faulkner: Australia's seasoned campaigner, James Faulkner has a special relation with the Indian team when it comes to ODIs. One might remember the 2013-14 series where he played brilliantly for Australia, performing with both bat (230 runs) and ball (seven wickets).
Faulkner, who is very effective in the middle and death overs with his back of the hand slower deliveries, played his last ODI against New Zealand in February 2017 where he picked up three wickets. It will be a task for the explosive Indian batting line-up to get runs off the medium-pacer.
Glenn Maxwell: With a strike rate of 124.10 in 77 matches, Glenn Maxwell is definitely one of the most brutal ODI and T20 forces that India will have to deal with in the series. Maxwell, known for his destructive batting in the death overs, will be big concern for the Indian bowlers if he starts blasting the balls out of the ground.
Handy with the ball as well, Maxwell has the knack of picking of wickets at crucial junctures to put the opposition on the back foot and curb the flow of runs. Till date, in 77 matches, Maxwell has 45 wickets to his name.