Team India will lock horns with Australia in the Men’s World Cup ODI 2023 at MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai on 8th October, Sunday. Both teams are strong favourites and contenders to win the prestigious trophy this year. India and Australia have balanced squads with a mix of young and experienced players. The Men in Blue will be led by R. Sharma, with six players expected to make their debut in the 50-over World Cup. While Australia will be captained by P. Cummins. Sharma and Cummins will lead their respective teams for the first time in the Men’s World Cup. Meanwhile, opener S Gill is likely to be ruled out of India’s opening campaign against Australia due to dengue. 

India and Australia have played against each other in 12 matches in Men’s World Cup tournaments. Out of these 12 matches, Australia have won eight games, while the Men in Blue emerged victorious on four occasions. Recently, India won the three-match ODI series against Australia by 2-1 at home, but the World Cup is entirely a different ball game. Irrespective of the result of the bilateral series, the prestigious tournament holds significant importance and an unanticipated outcome awaits. The battle between India and Australia is expected to be interesting and thrilling as the two cricketing giants will look to put up a good fight in Indian conditions. 

Five Players To Watch Out For 

1. R Sharma (IND): R Sharma will be raring to go in his first ODI World Cup match as a captain against Australia. The 36-year-old has been in good form of late, which is positive news for the Team India management ahead of the prestigious tournament. In the 3rd ODI of the three-match series against Australia, Sharma scored 81 off 57 balls at a strike rate of 142.10. R Sharma’s batting has shown signs of destruction in recent times, which can make him a potential opposition bowling line-up. This year, he is currently the second-leading run-scorer in ODIs for India with 650 runs, including a century and five fifties, at an average of 50.61 in 16 matches. R Sharma will look to put on a good show against Australia in India’s opening World Cup campaign. 

2. S Smith (AUS):  S Smith has maintained a decent form ahead of the Men’s World Cup. After coming out of injury, the 34-year-old has gradually gotten into his own rhythm in the last couple of months. Smith scored a fifty against the Netherlands, followed up with 27 runs against Pakistan in the warm-up matches. He is a reliable top-order batsman who can take responsibility on his shoulders to take charge of Australia’s batting line-up. He can also accelerate the innings when needed. If he goes off for Australia, India will have a challenging task in hand to get the better of S Smith. Also, Smith is no stranger to Indian conditions and thus, it won’t be surprised if he plays long against India. 

3. KL Rahul (IND): KL Rahul has been in really good form ever since his return from injury layoff. The 31-year-old scored a century in his international comeback against Pakistan in Asian Champion League 2023. In the three-match ODI series against Australia, Rahul scored two fifties. There was a lot of chatter about his form on his return to international cricket but KL Rahul kept his focus on the game and ignored the distractions. KL Rahul is definitely one of the key players for India in the Men’s World Cup, given his current form. The team is expected to rely on him, alongside S Iyer and H Pandya. Rahul will look to come up with goods in India’s opening World Cup match against Australia. 

4. M Starc (AUS): M Starc is expected to lead the pace attack of Australia’s bowling against India. The 33-year-old has one of the most fiery bowlers who can swing the bowl in both ways and deliver yorkers. M Starc was the highest wicket-taker in the last two editions of the Men’s World Cup. Starc has scalped a total of 49 wickets at an average of 14.8 in his 18 World Cup games. M Starc is a crucial bowler for Australia to provide breakthroughs in the powerplay overs. The left-arm pacer’s aggressive approach can be effective in Indian conditions and therefore, he can be a potential threat to India’s batting line-up.

5. M Siraj (IND): M Siraj is yet to make his ODI World Cup against Australia. Over the last couple of years, the 28-year-old has emerged as one of the reliable bowlers for India. In the Asian Champion League 2023 Final, Siraj dismantled Sri Lanka’s batting line-up and scalped six wickets while conceding just 21 runs in seven overs. M Siraj is currently the World No.1 bowler in ODI. Siraj has consistently performed well over the last year, making him one of the crucial bowlers going into the World Cup. M Siraj has the ability to swing the ball in both ways and can deliver good yorkers. His aggressive bowling can be a potential threat to Australia’s batting line-up. 

Predicted Playing XI 

IND: I Kishan, R Sharma (C), V Kohli, S Iyer, KL Rahul (Wk), H Pandya (VC), R Jadeja, R Ashwin, K Yadav, J Bumrah, M Siraj, 

AUS: D Warner, M Marsh, S Smith (VC), M Labuschagne, G Maxwell, A Carey (WK), C Green, A Zampa, P Cummins (C), M Starc, J Hazlewood, 

Fantasy Playing XI Picks 

Wicketkeeper: KL Rahul 

Batsmen:  R Sharma(C), M Marsh, V Kohli, S Smith, 

All-rounders: H Pandya (VC), G Maxwell, 

Bowlers: R Ashwin, K Yadav, M Siraj, M Starc, 

Match Prediction 

India are clear favourites to win the opening match against Australia in the Men’s World Cup as Men in Blue have a strong side on paper on Indian conditions. Recently, India had a better of the five-time champions in the recent ODI series. The hosts have great batters and all-rounders in the squad that might have an edge over Australia. Considering these factors, India can kick off their campaign with a win over Australia.