Team India will resume their international commitments amid the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic era in Australia, where they kick things off with a three-match One-Day International series on Friday. 

Notably, India are the defending champions of the ODI series in Australia, having won it 2-1 during their last visit in 2018-19.

Team strength and weaknesses
Team India would be hyped up as ever to repeat the same feat and retain the crown. However, it certainly won't be as easy this time around. Although the side has retained the core squad from its last visit, the absence of Rohit Sharma is a void to fill in the top-order. Nonetheless, they still possess the team, which bristles with young talent, to outplay the Aussies on their turf.

As for the hosts, it would not be much different either when it comes to their squad. In fact, it would be even better, as the big guns in the form of lethal opener David Warner and classy Steve Smith are back in the line-up. 

The duo had missed out on the last edition owing to the one-year suspension handed to them following their involvement in the infamous ball-tampering incident in Cape Town. Besides, it is their lethal bowling attack that is being tipped to outshine every other department.

Squad composition
As for the squad, India reinforces a series of deadly and talented batsmen. Skipper Virat Kohli would support the top-order, followed by handy opener Shikhar Dhawan and in-form wicketkeeper-batsman KL Rahul. Also, the likes of Mayank Agarwal, Shubman Gill, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya and Sanju Samson are the ones who can assist the middle-order.

As for their bowling, they possess the world's most lethal pacer in the form of Jasprit Bumrah, while Mohammed Shami along with Shardul Thakur and Navdeep Saini can give stability. Among spinners, Ravindra Jadeja is the man in form along with Yuzvendra Chahal, while Kuldeep Yadav's inconsistent form makes him a doubtful starter.

For Australia, it's a dream squad, which props skipper Aaron Finch, followed by Smith and Warner in the top-order. In the middle, it's Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Marnus Labuschagne, Glenn Maxwell, Matthew Wade and Marcus Stoinis, who are ready to take the attack to the Indian bowlers.

The Australian pace battery would be headlined by Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins, while Sean Abbott, Josh Hazlewood, Moises Henriques and Andrew Tye can also bowl decent as per the situation. 

Among the spinners, Ashton Agar and Adam Zampa, who are effective with the spin, would be a substantial test for the Indian batsmen.

Players to watch out
For India, the focus would undoubtedly be on skipper Kohli, who had an average outing in the just-concluded Indian Premier League in the United Arab Emirates. However, it would be interesting to see how Rahul fills in the void left by Rohit, along with Dhawan, who is a consistent performer Down Under. If either of the top-order fails, Samson would be the next one in. In the middle, Iyer and Pandya would have a test for themselves. Both the batsman had a terrific season in the IPL and would be interesting to see if they can carry forward the momentum, Down Under. 

Among bowlers, Bumrah is generally known to be effective in Australia, as the Indians would be relying on his lethal yorkers to trouble the Aussies. At the same time, Shami's unpredictable seam movement is set to give the batsmen a tough time. Meanwhile, Jadeja and Chahal are in-form with their spin. However, their effectiveness in Sydney and Canberra is to be monitored closely.

For Aussies, the focus would be on the top guns, Warner and Smith, who are undoubtedly favourites to perform in the series. However, Finch's poor run in the IPL will make him a target, along with Glenn Maxwell, who failed to hit even a single six in the tournament this term. Labuschagne, who is a star in Tests, would also be backed by the management to prove his class in ODIs.

Among the bowlers, Starc's fatal seam is undoubtedly set to trouble the Indian batsman, as he is the top pick among the bowlers for the series. Furthermore, Zampa's economical spin bowling, regardless of the conditions, makes him a must-have in the XI.

Milestones in the reckoning
Kohli: The Indian skipper has 11,867 runs to his name in the format, as 133 more would help him reach the 12,000-mark, making him the sixth player to do so.

Finch: The Aussies skipper has scored 4,983 ODI runs to date and needs 17 more to enter the 5,000-mark and become the 16th player from the nation to reach the landmark.

Chahal: The leg-spinner has 91 ODI wickets to his name and needs nine more to enter the 100-wicket club. He would become the 23rd Indian to attain the milestone.

Squads:
India:
Virat Kohli (c), Shikhar Dhawan, Shubman Gill, KL Rahul (vc & wk), Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya, Mayank Agarwal, Ravindra Jadeja, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohd. Shami, Navdeep Saini, Shardul Thakur and Sanju Samson (wk).

Australia: Aaron Finch (c), Sean Abbott, Ashton Agar, Alex Carey (wk), Pat Cummins (vc), Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Moises Henriques, Marnus Labuschagne, Glenn Maxwell, Daniel Sams, Kane Richardson, Steven Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade (wk), David Warner and Adam Zampa.