A huge number of fans thronged the Sydney Cricket Ground to get a selfie or an autograph from former India captain MS Dhoni ahead of the first ODI against Australia. Dhoni, who wasn’t part of the T20I squad, will certainly be looking to set the stage on fire in the three-match ODI series.

Hit hard by an unexpected controversy after the high of the Test triumph, India will look to fine tune their World Cup preparations in the three-match ODI series against an under-fire Australia, beginning on Saturday. Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul has provided a big distraction for the Indian team by making “inappropriate” comments on women during a TV show.

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In the build-up to the first ODI, skipper Virat Kohli underlined that the team management is still waiting for a decision to be made regarding a ban or punishment to be meted out to the two players. The team management didn’t announce a shortlist for this game, as is now the norm, and will wait to hear from the BCCI on the two players’ availability. Considering the enormity of this developing situation, it is unlikely that both Pandya and Rahul will be available for at least the first ODI.

Rahul was unlikely to get a go owing to both his poor form and the presence of a well-settled opening pair in Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan. The bigger question though is regarding Pandya’s absence, for the all-rounder provides crucial balance to the ODI side with his ability to bowl 10 overs as well as bat in the middle order.

(With inputs from agencies)

First Published: Jan 11, 2019 14:33 IST

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