The last of the opening group games takes place on Sunday morning (9:30), as hosts India take on Australia in Chennai. We’ve previewed the fixture and given you our suggested best bets.
India (8/13) come into this tournament under huge pressure, not just as tournament hosts but as 7/4 competition favourites.
Their preparation has been mixed to say the least, with an Asia Cup win followed by two wash-outs in the warm-up games.
Rahul Dravid’s men are ranked number one in the world in all three formats, yet they haven’t won a mjaor tournament since 2013.
This is the first time that the Cricket World Cup has been held solely in India and the nation expects, yet they face a really difficult start in Chennai.
Australia (13/10) are, of course, the dominant behemoth of this competition, winning it a record five times and have moved into second favourites at 7/2 to win again, after England’s poor start.
Pat Cummins’ side have had their own difficult build-up to this tournament, losing back-to-back series against South Africa and their opponents here on Sunday.
That South Africa tour was a particular disappointment, as the Baggy Green had taken a 2-0 lead in the five match series.
Will the Indian’s win here and inspire a nation to really back them for this World Cup, or will that old familiar name of Australia show that they, yet again, are the team to beat?
Veteran spinner Ravi Ashwin has been drafted into the squad, after left-armer Axar Patel failed to recover from a quad-strain picked up in the Asia Cup.
India (probable): Rohit Sharma (c), Ishan Kishan, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul (wk), Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Siraj
Marcus Stonis is touch and go for Andrew McDonald’s starting XI for Sunday, after picking up a hamstring strain in the India ODI series. Travis Head is a major doubt and will likely miss out.
Australia (probable): David Warner, Mitchell Marsh, Steve Smith, Marnus Labuschagne, Glenn Maxwell, Alex Carey (wk), Marcus Stoinis, Pat Cummins (c), Mitchell Starc, Adam Zampa, Josh Hazelwood
Mitchell Marsh top AUS run scorer – 18/5
What a year it’s been for Mitch Marsh!
For a man who looked to be in the twilight of his international career and at times used to describe himself as the most hated man in Australia, he has had success after success.
After being drafted in as cover for Cameron Green in the Ashes, Marsh took his chance and then some, hitting 118 in his comeback test and taking important wickets, to help Australia to retain the little urn.
Following that, the 31-year-old was rewarded with the T20 captaincy and averaged 186 in a 3-0 demolition of South Africa. Back in the ODI side, under the captaincy of Cummins, Marsh scored 71 against South Africa again and then 96 in the India series, maintaining his excellent form.
Marsh is averaging over 46 in 2023 in ODI’s and will be given the task of building the innings in the middle overs here. I like his chances to top score again.
Ravi Ashwin top IND bowler – 18/5
The 37-year-old warhorse, Ashwin was given a recall to the squad for the Australia series in the absence of the injured Patel and showed he still more than has it.
In his first match back, Ravi bowled beautifully to take 3/41 and back on his home ground in Chennai on a spin-friendly deck, he should be right in his element.
Ashwin will be playing his 116th ODI and has 155 wickets in his career. With the Aussies pushing along in the middle orders, I fancy the veteran to pick up some more.