Green, Maxwell, Labuschagne in India ODI series spotlight

Five key questions that Australia will need to answer during the three-match series

Andrew McGlashan
Andrew McGlashan
Australia begin their long-awaited home season with a short, sharp ODI series against India. Their last assignment was an impressive victory over reigning world champions England, and they are continuing the early stages of building plans for the 2023 ODI World Cup. ESPNcricinfo highlights five key areas to keep an eye on over the three-match series.
Does Green get a debut?
There will be at least one change from the team that clinched the ODI series against England in September with the Glenn Maxwell-Alex Carey inspired run chase. Mitchell Marsh is sidelined by the ankle injury he sustained during the IPL, which means an allrounder is needed in the middle order. It might be that Steven Smith's comeback - he missed the England series because of concussion - sees Marcus Stoinis slip down the order on the back of his impressive IPL 2020 campaign and share 10 overs with Maxwell (another option would be the recalled Moises Henriques). However, the name on everyone's lips is the uncapped Western Australia allrounder Cameron Green although he has been picked on the strength of his first-class rather than one-day form: he has only played nine List A games for a batting average of 27.83 and seven wickets at 34.42. Justin Langer has made it clear that Green will only be selected if he can perform a full role with the ball as he continues his comeback to bowling following stress fractures of his back.
Beyond the big three
Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins make up a fine pace-bowling trio in any format. But depending on whether any of them are rested during the ODIs, it could be a chance to a have look at what's just below them. Kane Richardson would normally be the first understudy, but he has opted out of the series to stay with his family in Adelaide, so it is Sean Abbott, Daniel Sams and Andrew Tye who are the pace-bowling reserves. The latter two are known more for - and selected on - their T20 skills, so Abbott could be in pole position. His one ODI cap to date came back in 2014 against Pakistan, but overall he has an impressive List A bowling record of 97 wickets at 24.87 and, while in a different format, was one of the standout players in the recent Sheffield Shield hub.
Top-order form
A couple of key members of Australia's top order come into the series with question marks over their form following the IPL. Captain Aaron Finch couldn't get going for the Royal Challengers Bangalore and was dropped for a few matches towards the end of the tournament after a campaign where he made starts but did not convert. Smith was ever present as captain of the Rajasthan Royals, who finished bottom, and while he started with a brace of half-centuries and later added a third, it wasn't his most convincing of tournaments. However, speaking on Tuesday, Smith said he had "found his hands again" and was ready to go. While the white-ball matches are important in their own right, it will be interesting to see if the India bowlers can score any points against Smith ahead of the Test series.
Will Labuschagne bowl more?
Marnus Labuschagne is settling nicely into Australia's ODI top order at No. 4 - averaging 43.77 after nine innings - but with the second string of his legspin he has only sent down four overs. His bowling continues to be in the developmental stage and is perhaps more suited to the red-ball game where the occasional drag-down or full-toss does not really matter but, particularly with the next ODI World Cup being in India, his value will continue to increase if he can become a viable option for Finch. Australia tend to play with four frontline bowlers and then a collection of batting allrounders to fill the rest of the overs.
The Maxwell factor
Talking of the balance of the side, so much of that revolves around Maxwell. In the deciding match against England, he produced one of the best innings of his career - 108 off 90 balls - which followed 77 in the opening match of the series, which steered another recovery. They were his first ODIs since the disappointing 2019 World Cup and, even though he will be 35, he is a key part of the team's strategy for 2023. Having been all over the order, it would appear the No. 7 position is now his home, albeit with the ability to move up if the situation dictates.

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo