Ahead of the all-important World T20 scheduled in March, the Indian cricket team will face their biggest test in overseas conditions when they take on newly-crowned world champions Australia in the ODI and T20 series starting from 12 January.
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Limited-overs captain MS Dhoni, who faced a lot of criticism last year, will once again lead the charge for the Indian brigade who'll be slugging it out in the five ODI and three T20 matches against a fairly young, yet competitive Aussie side down under.
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Following back-to-back T20 and ODI series losses against South Africa, the calls to have Virat Kohli captain in all three formats have grown louder with many starting to believe that Dhoni's career might be coming to an end.
The speculations also suggest that the Ranchi-born cricketer might hang his boots after the World T20 scheduled later this year in India. Given the circumstances, Dhoni would be eager to make a mark on the Australian tour to probably have one final say on foreign soil.
However, Dhoni's road to redemption is not going to be easy. Indian batsmen have struggled on the quick and bouncy tracks which the hosts are eager to exploit with a new-look pace attack. From the ravishing batsmen to fiery fast bowlers, here's a look at five Aussie match-winners who can spell trouble for the Indian side:
One of most influential batsmen in modern-day cricket, Australian captain Steve Smith has turned out to be a game-changer for his side over the years. The right-handed batsman is quick-footed and adept at facing spin, but is equally comfortable with driving and pulling the fast bowlers. And, when it comes to taking the game away from the opposition, there is probably no one better than Smith.
The Indian team will be wary of Smith's batting prowess which handed a crushing blow to the MS Dhoni brigade in the semifinals of the 2015 World Cup. The Oz skipper smashed a sizzling 105 to help Australia post 328 runs, a target Dhoni's men failed to achieve.
More importantly, Smith is in good touch and has been busy scoring runs in limited-overs cricket. In the home conditions, Smith is likely to be unstoppable which can give a lot of headache to the Indian captain.
The 23-year-old Tasmanian has cemented his place in the Australian team in a relatively quicker span of time than one would have expected. A left-arm medium pacer and a right-hand batsman, Faulkner has become a limited-overs specialist for his side over the years.
Faulkner's deceptive slow delivery and his ability to move the ball both ways is likely to test the character and technique of the star-studded Indian batting line-up in the upcoming series. If India intend to upset the hosts, they will have to negate Faulkner well.
The 'pocket dynamite' has established a reputation of blowing the opposition bowlers away with his explosive batting . His ability to launch the ball back into the stands at will makes him one the most dangerous opening batsman in limited over cricket.
He is the first Australian cricketer in 132 years to be selected for a National team without playing first-class cricket. Warner also became the first cricketer to record centuries in back to back T20 matches. His batting prowess makes him a limited-overs specialist with 2191 runs in ODIs and over 1400 runs to his name in the shortest version of the game.
His presence, high up the batting order, will pose a great threat to the Indian bowlers who will be eager to get rid of the swashbuckling left-hander early in the match.
Following a sensational run in the domestic circuit, the 23-year-old seamer Joel Paris has been fast-tracked into the Australian ODI squad for the upcoming series against India. The tall left-arm bowler made his name as a state cricketer in the ODI format with two impressive Matador Cup campaigns in 2014-15 and 2015-16.
His ability to swing the ball made him a key weapon for Western Australia, who won the tournament in 2014-15 thanks to his tally of 13 wickets at 12.92. Paris continued his fine form this season with 10 wickets at 22.40. In his two first-class matches (Sheffield Shield), he has taken 14 wickets at 16.85.
In the absence of bowling spearhead Mitchell Starc, Australia have decided to surprise the Indian batsmen with their new fast-bowling hope.
One of the fastest scorers in modern-day cricket, Glenn Maxwell has been an integral part of the Australian middle-order in the shorter versions of the game. Apart from his power, Maxwell's ability to execute unconventional shots with ease makes him a nightmare for the opposition bowlers.
Maxwell showcased his batting prowess during the 2015 World Cup against Sri Lanka when he smashed a 51-ball hundred, the fastest for Australia in ODIs and second-quickest in tournament's history.
Just like all the captains, Dhoni, too, will have to devise a strategy to get rid of the swashbuckling batsman before he cuts a sorry figure for the bowlers.