Virat Kohli-led India look to put final touches to World Cup plans

Team India will be aiming to lock in the last couple of available slots in their England-bound World Cup squad, when they square off with familiar foes Australia in a limited overs series starting with the first T20.

India vs Australia

Cementing spots in their World Cup squad will top the agenda for Indians and Australians alike when their limited-over series starts with the first Twenty20 in Visakhapatnam on Sunday. 

The seven-match series comprising two T20 Internationals and five ODIs against a struggling Australian side, will be India's last international assignment before the mega event starting May 30 in England and Wales. 

With all but two places sealed, Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri will also treat these two T20 games as an extended audition for the World Cup hopefuls, who are still on the waiting list. 

Skipper Kohli is back after a well-deserved three-week break and will be keeping a keen eye on the likes of Rishabh Pant and Vijay Shankar, two players who are strongly tipped to make the elite list. 

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Preparation for World Cup

While India will be busy with the annual Indian Premier League T20 tournament before heading to the World Cup in England. 

Having edged out Dinesh Karthik in the ODI side in the race to the World Cup, Pant will get a few more chances to make a strong case for himself. 

For Vijay Shankar, it will be a great opportunity to make his case even stronger in the absence of Hardik Pandya, who is out with his recurring lower back injury. 

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Time to fill middle-order spot

For Kohli, who led India to their first Test series victory in Australia but skipped the second half of the New Zealand tour, the series will be the last chance to identify the batsman to fill a middle-order spot in an otherwise settled side. 

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Consistent bowling options

There is not much ambiguity in their pace bowling options while the successful spin duo of Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav are set to travel to England, where the twice champions begin their World Cup campaign against South Africa on June 5. 

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No Hardik Pandya, no problem

Kuldeep has, however, been rested for the T20 leg against Australia while all-rounder Hardik Pandya, a key cog in India's scheme of things at the World Cup, has been ruled out of the entire series. 

All-rounder Pandya will miss India's limited-overs home series against Australia, their last before this year's World Cup, with lower back stiffness. 

Ravindra Jadeja will replace Pandya for the five one-dayers. 

With wrist-spinners Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav having established themselves as India's frontline spinners, Pandya's injury affords Jadeja a chance to impress before India finalise the final 15 for the World Cup in England and Wales. 

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Opportunity for Ravindra Jadeja

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That has presented an opportunity for spin bowling all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja to make a final audition after being initially overlooked. 

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Kohli's men will look to settle the scores with a 2-0

It was way back in 2016 when India under MS Dhoni last won against Australia, a 3-0 clean sweep Down Under as this time Kohli's men will look to settle the scores with a 2-0. 

But more than that the series will be a dress rehearsal for the World Cup as Kohli would look like to make a final assessment before heading to World Cup in May. 

Kohli will look to straightway be back among the runs after a sterling 2018 where he ended the year with an astounding 2735 runs from 38 matches across formats.  

(Photograph:AFP)