Hosts India take on Australia in a 3-match ODI series starting today, to be played at Mumbai, Rajkot and Bengaluru. This will be the first time that the two teams face off since the world cup game in London last June, a match that India comprehensively won. The last bilateral ODI series between the two sides was also in India early last year, a 5-match series that Australia went on to win 3-2 after being 1-2 down. Both teams crashed out of the world cup at the semifinal stage, and have had decent runs in ODI cricket since then. Moreover, Australia boasts of having the best ODI record on Indian soil amongst all visiting teams, which is why one can expect this series to be a cracker. Here are five talking points on the series.
The stars of the last series are back
Two Aussie players who missed out on the 2019 world cup campaign were Peter Handscomb and Ashton Turner – the heroes of last year’s Mohali ODI in which Australia pulled off a record chase of 358. However, with David Warner and Steve Smith’s return to international cricket and Marnus Labuschagne‘s rapid rise, these two now find themselves a few notches below in the pecking order. Nonetheless, their experience from the previous series will count. On the whole, Australia’s middle order looks a tad more solid than India’s this time around.
Expect some big scores
Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, David Warner, Marnus Labuschagne, Aaron Finch, Steve Smith – viewers will be spoilt for choice! Both teams pack some heavy batting might, and have scored in excess of 300 in eighty percent of their last 20 ODIs, with not a single score under 200. Expect the series to be a run fest.
The best bowlers in the world will be on display
Mitchell Starc, Jasprit Bumrah, Pat Cummins and Mohammed Shami in the same series? The best in the business have their task cut out on batting-friendly pitches against some of the biggest batting stars in cricket. They won’t take to being smashed around very kindly. Both teams have full-strength sides that look evenly matched, which makes this series a mouth-watering contest.
A problem of plenty
Virat Kohli has said that he will consider moving himself down the order so that the three in-form openers – Rohit, KL Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan – can play together. This means that Kedar Jadhav could be dropped, given that Shreyas Iyer will be at 5 and Rishabh Pant at 6. Another option is that KL Rahul might keep wickets to accommodate Jadhav in place of Pant. Either way, the motive is to play a heavy top order to compensate for a lack of experience and hitting (Shivam Dube is new, Pant is inconsistent, Hardik Pandya is missing) in the middle order. Ravindra Jadeja will be crucial again, with the ball as well as the bat.
Usman Khawaja and Glenn Maxwell are not part of the Australian squad for this series. Maxwell had earlier opted to take a break from cricket due to mental health reasons, and is presently playing domestic cricket. Khawaja’s axing has stumped many, given how prolific his 2019 was (1,085 runs in ODIs at 50). Australia have opted for young Marnus Labuschagne, who has been in sparkling test form lately, over Khawaja’s proven limited-overs pedigree. This is unusual but ambitious in how they are already looking towards the 2023 World Cup.