Kohli faltered in the Test series - 46 runs in five innings, his poorest return from a Test series on home soil - and has a point to prove against Australia.
Neutrals will hope for something more in the surfaces for the bowlers.
But in Australia, the hosts will face stiffer competition simply because of the quality of players the visitors posses. They have lost their last eight completed matches on the road, last winning one in September 2016, against Ireland.
The only middle slot that looks locked is that of Virat Kohli, as there is no guarantee MS Dhoni will head to the World Cup. The India skipper was out for a four-ball duck. In their defense of 270 in Rajkot, South Africa stole the game from an improbable situation.
India's bowling too looks in good shape with the comeback of Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami.
Opting to bat first, India made a poor start as they were reduced to 11-3 in the sixth over.
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The ambitions here are realistic and there is an enormous potential for growth and I hope we can achieve our goals'. They are performing poorly in this season. "I thought in the second-half we got up to the ball better".
Confidence is an influential factor in sport. Australian bowling attack suddenly felt the pressure after that. Openers thrive on pace - Rahul's mind, like that of his lot, seems wired to find gaps early in the innings. With Australia - and the rest of the world - struggling to pick wristspin, Kuldeep is likely to be persisted with.
For India, Akshar Patel has been replaced by Ravindra Jadeja for the first 3-ODIs, while Australia have called in Peter Handscomb to cover for Aaron Finch.
WICKET! Nothing is going India's way.
Indian cricketer Yuzvendra Chahal celebrates the wicket of Australian cricketer Glenn Maxwell during the first one day global cricket match in the India-Australia series at the M A Chidhambaram stadium in Chenna.
Pandya provided just the launch-pad for that, by smashing 22 runs from four deliveries - one boundary, and three sixes. There is a forecast for thunderstorms on Sunday afternoon. India on the other hand have managed only 41 wins.
Australian players celebrate after dismissing Ajinkya Rahane during their first ODI against India at M.A. Chidambaram Stadium, in Chennai on Sunday. "You can say what you want, you can keep talking the whole time but if you don't deliver on the field it doesn't matter". While he also hit couple of tons in the 50-over format of the game here.
An emphasis on squad rotation, player management and using the format to hand experience to young players has resulted in an nearly apathetic approach to the One Day International cricket, which is fast becoming more a proving ground for new talent than a format where winning is everything.