The short limited overs series, including five ODIs and three T20 internationals, Down Under will initiate the Indian team's preparations for the marquee ICC World T20 scheduled in March-April. The T20 games will be played after the five ODIs, and Dhoni's boys would like to carry the momentum in the shortest format.

While India won both their warm-up games -- a T20 and 50-over match each -- against the second string Western Australia XI, it is certainly not the best indicator of the kind of challenge they will face from Steve Smith's men.

India did not have a great 2015 when they came to the 50-over format as they lost back-to-back series to Bangladesh (away) and South Africa (at home). Skipper Dhoni will like to turn the tables in the new year but will rue the fact that one of his best pace weapons, Mohammed Shami, has been ruled out due to a hamstring injury even before the first ball has been bowled.

But there are certain aspects that might also relieve Dhoni. The fact that David Warner may not be available for better part of the series and with Mitchell Starc or the now retired Mitchell Johnson not there, the Aussie bowling attack comprising Josh Hazlewood, Joel Paris, Scott Boland and Jimmy Faulkner looks thin on experience.

As far as his own bowling attack is concerned, Dhoni has been fretting over the possible playing XI combinations. The selectors wanted to send a message by putting an end to the question mark over his leadership. But the man himself knows that he has to up the ante and perform for his team.

India need Dhoni to produce match-winning efforts, which have been few and far between in recent times. It will be interesting to see where Dhoni comes into bat. For him, a lot will depend on how his pace battery delivers.

It won't be easy to stem the flow of runs if Australia skipper Smith gets going. Warner, for whatever time he is available, would be a threat looming large on the bowlers. His sheer presence can be intimidating. Aaron Finch and Glenn Maxwell can take apart any bowling on their day.

Immediate concerns are aplenty though, ranging from solving the batting order equation to finding the right balance with the bowling attack. Starting with the latter, Shami's hamstring injury is a big blow to Indian hopes. The pacer spent a considerable time away from the game since the 2015 ODI World Cup, but it cannot be denied that he was the spearhead of the attack in the limited-overs arena.


Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain and wk), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Manish Pandey, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Barinder Sran, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Axar Patel, Rishi Dhawan

Australia: Steve Smith (captain), Aaron Finch, David Warner, George Bailey, Glenn Maxwell, Shaun Marsh, Mitchell Marsh, James Faulkner, Matthew Wade (WK), Kane Richardson, Josh Hazlewood, Joel Paris, Scott Boland.

The match starts at 0850 hrs (IST).

Latest News from Sports News Desk