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Retro-clad Australia seek throwback to fortunes

Cricket news - Retro-clad Australia seek throwback to fortunes

One of the more fascinating aspects of ODI cricket Down Under from the Kerry Packer days till probably the early 2000s were the team jerseys. They always added an interesting element of aesthetics to the action in the middle and on TV. And often the most exciting part about the start of the traditional tri-series back in the day would be to see what colours and designs the visiting teams in particular would be decked in.

The Aussie theme would generally be based around their classical canary yellow-blended in with a shade of green here and some blue there. There was a time in between, however, where they adopted a mix of Sacramento and basil green with the yellow reduced to two stripes around the shoulders. They didn't mind going a tad risque with the visitors, whether it was putting the bad-ass West Indians in pink during the 1970s or giving the Pakistanis a blue helmet for the 1999-00 tri-series.

It's the retro jerseys from the 1980s though, which while being far simpler than the abstract designs of the 1990s, that still get Australians of all ages excited. You see them everywhere, from the stands at the iconic venues around the country, to almost every thrift shop you walk into around the country. On Saturday, you'll get to see them in the middle of the SCG when Aaron Finch leads his ODI outfit in the first of the three matches against India. According to Finch, the kit is some sort of a throwback to the 1986 vintage, though the yellow is slightly bolder now and the green more fluorescent.

"Hopefully we can do those guys proud and Australia proud. It's a big series, it's a series that will obviously... we want to win. But the kit is pretty cool," is how Australia's latest ODI captain summed it up.

Pride is at stake for Finch & Co and Australian cricket in general. They're just coming off their first-ever series loss at home to India after having guarded their citadel for over 70 years. It's also a strange time in their history where there's a huge push to go forward with a new culture in place, but also an urge to reignite the success of the past.

The retro look that their team will sport on Saturday perhaps sums up the mood around Australian cricket perfectly in that sense. And while Finch spoke about winning the series as being a goal, they will be well-placed simply by winning in Sydney to start with. The world champions have only won 3 out of their last 24 ODIs after all.

No wonder coach Justin Langer agreed a day earlier, saying, "Our results over the last two or three years have been not what we're used to in Australian cricket."

The opening ODI will also see India go from their whites to the blue that they have tasted immense success with over the last 12 months. In the past, they would do so with glee, especially in this part of the world, having lost a Test series or having failed to get over the line for the umpteenth time. But here, they are carrying the momentum on from one of the most significant results of their cricketing history.

If anything, they would have preferred a few more days to savour their historic achievement. Not like it'll affect the way they go into what has been one of their more favoured formats. And unlike the Aussies, expect them to look rather comfortable in their standard blue jerseys. It is a World Cup year, and that always puts an added onus on momentum for every team in the lead-up. The Indians wouldn't mind adding a historic ODI series triumph over the next 10 days or so.

When: Australia v India, 1st ODI, January 12, 01.30 pm Local, 08:00 am IST

Where: SCG, Sydney

What to expect: It's been a strangely gloomy week here with the weather resembling more June in Mumbai than January in Sydney since the final day of the last Test. The forecast is for bright, sunny skies for the first ODI, and neither team will complain, having spent their last visits to the SCG twiddling their thumbs.

Neither will mind the pitch either, which escaped flak for its flatness during the Test because of the rain interruptions. The layer of green on top only means the ball will come on a lot faster and go off it equally faster. Like with the Australian kit, the 22 yards at the SCG will favour the batsmen like it has historically. The BBL teams have already set the trend for the summer, and you'll expect the likes of Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli to follow suit.

The last two encounters between those sides have been interesting affairs too. India failed to chased down a sizable total in the World Cup semi-final in 2015, and then chased down 331 a year later in a bilateral series with Manish Pandey, not on this tour, scoring his maiden ODI ton. Over 40,000 fans are expected to crowd the SCG on Saturday, but expect most of them to be decked in the blue of India rather than the local yellow. You also wonder with the Aussies deciding to go retro, how many of their fans, who will show up, would have had the time to do the same and recreate that nostalgia in the stands.

Team News

India

Cricket and Bollywood have always had a symbiotic relationship in India. But in perhaps a first, going on a popular Bollywood-themed TV show is likely to have cost at least one of India's main men for the 50-over format their place in the side. Hardik Pandya is unlikely to be available-though like the captain said, the verdict is still awaited-and that will put India in a position, where they will have to alter their preferred combination.

They did do without Pandya rather comfortably in the home series against the West Indies late last year. Pandya's potential absence might open the doors for Ravindra Jadeja, and maybe a break from the dual wrist-spin attack. The decision to send Jasprit Bumrah back, means Bhuvaneshwar Kumar will get a chance to lead the attack, and stake a claim to become a certainty for the World Cup. Mohammed Shami and Khaleel Ahmed, meanwhile, will be left with fighting for the third seamer's spot, which is perhaps the only spot in the bowling line-up that still needs a certain fix.

Probable XI: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli (c), Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni (wk), Kedar Jadhav, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Khaleel Ahmed

Australia

It's not just what the Australians will be wearing that'll have a throwback theme on Saturday. A couple of their players will do so too. Peter Siddle is all set to play his first ODI since 2010, while Test specialist Nathan Lyon gets a chance to prove his white-ball mettle in place of Adam Zampa.

There's also an experiment at the top with Alex Carey picked to open alongside the captain. Glenn Maxwell, the most discussed cricketer in Australia both when he gets picked and when he doesn't, is now touted to be Australia's finisher at No.7, even if Finch insists on him being a floater. Khawaja, Marsh and Handscomb, meanwhile, will look to forget the recent past and somehow get their act in order as they move from whites to their country's new old colours.

Playing XI: Aaron Finch (c), Alex Carey (wk), Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, Peter Handscomb, Marcus Stoinis, Glenn Maxwell, Peter Siddle, Jhye Richardson, Nathan Lyon, Jason Behrendorff

Did you know:

- Rohit Sharma has scored hundreds in each of his last nine ODI series, starting from Champions Trophy 2017.

- Australia won just two out of their 13 ODIs in 2018 - a win percentage of 15.38, the fewest for them in a calendar year when they played at least five ODIs.

- Peter Siddle will play his first ODI since 2010. The 169 ODIs he missed is the most by any Australian player between two ODI appearances.

What they said:

"It's exciting to have Bhuvneshwar Kumar back in the bowling scenario. He's been working hard during the Tests. Obviously there was no room for him to be featured in the eleven purely because of the bowling attack together." - India captain Virat Kohli.

"I think it is a very good opportunity for us... obviously India have been in a great form over a long period of time now... to test where we are." - Australia captain Aaron Finch.

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