Sports Cricket 15 Sep 2017 India vs Australia p ...

India vs Australia preview: Top ICC ODI Rankings up for grabs for Virat Kohli and co

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | SOUMO GHOSH
Published Sep 15, 2017, 8:03 pm IST
Updated Sep 15, 2017, 8:03 pm IST
The last bilateral limited overs series between India and Australia ended up seeing a record 3,036 runs being scored.
Both Virat Kohli and Steve Smith will be eyeing the top spot of the ICC ODI Rankings, ahead of the series. (Photo: AP)
 Both Virat Kohli and Steve Smith will be eyeing the top spot of the ICC ODI Rankings, ahead of the series. (Photo: AP)

Mumbai: Two of the best captains in the world of cricket are all set to pit their wits against each other, as Australia travel to India for five ODIs and three T20Is.

Any Indian cricket fan would proclaim Pakistan to be their side’s greatest rivals, while the Aussies would proclaim England as their perpetrators-in-chief.

 

However, over the last two decades India and Australia have forged a rivalry that has given us numerous top-quality matches. Most recently, the last bilateral limited overs series between the two sides ended up seeing a record 3,036 runs being scored, which is the highest number of runs scored in a five-match ODI series, beating the previous record of 3,016 scored in the New Zealand-England series a year before.

While we saw an absolute dust-bowl at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Pune during the first Test of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, it is highly unlikely that the pitches in the limited overs series will offer anything similar.

 

On the contrary, flat, batting-friendly pitches are expected in the five ODIs and three T20Is. Will these flat pitches be a boon or a curse for the two sets of players? Only time can tell.

India                                                              

 

One big change for the Indians in the Aussie series is that they had to drop left-handed opener Shikhar Dhawan from the squad, as he wished to attend to his wife, who is unwell.

Karnataka batsman KL Rahul is largely expected to open the batting, along with Rohit Sharma.

The duo is set to be followed by a strong middle and a seemingly never-ending lower order that could consist of as many as three all-rounders – Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya and Axar Patel.

The presence of so many all-rounders, especially that of Pandya and Axar gives a lot of balance to the Indian side, and provides them the opportunity to either score the big totals, or chase down the big totals under pressure situations. The deep batting order also aids the role of finishers like MS Dhoni and Kedar Jadhav, who could manage their innings better with recognised batters at the other end.

 

To add to the deep batting order, Virat Kohli also has an experienced bowling attack at his disposal against the Aussies. There is high competition for places between pacers Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah and Hardik Pandya.

While Pandya, being the out-and-out all-rounder, secures his spot, it will be interesting to see what pace combination Kohli goes with. The India captain may find his spin attack to be a bit inexperienced though, with Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja being rested.

Squad:

Virat Kohli (c), Yuzvendra Chahal, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Hardik Pandya, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Kedar Jadhav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Manish Pandey, Axar Patel, KL Rahul, Umesh Yadav.

 

Player to watch out for:

Rohit Sharma, opener

The Mumbai Indians' skipper is having a bountiful season, having already scored 606 runs in 2017, at an average of 75.75, and an impressive strike rate of 91.67.

However, his record against Australia is something that makes him the man to watch out for in the upcoming series. He has scored 1,297 runs at an average of 68.26 against Australia, the highest by any batsman who has scored more than 250 runs against the Aussies.

Coming in as an opener, Rohit is the type of batter who just needs to get his eye in, before raising hell for the opposition bowlers.

 

Australia

If there’s any them that can stop the Indian juggernaut, then it is the Australians. They already proved that in the longer version of the game in Pune, earlier this year, and will look to do so again, as they attempt to get the better of the hosts in the series.

Captain Steve Smith will obviously be the main man that the Indian captain and coaches will be plotting against. He has scored an incredible 3,187 runs against India, at an average of 44.26 and a strike rate of 87.48.

However, the Aussies find themselves carrying a rather young side to the subcontinent, with David Warner, at 30 years and 295 days, being the oldest player in the squad.

 

Despite the seemingly lack of experience, the Aussies carry a quality squad with them. The presence of Warner at the top of their batting order is certainly a bonus. They will depend on him to provide the explosive starts, easing the pressure on the middle order batters. Although he is yet to play an ODI in India, Warner has plenty of experience of playing in Indian conditions in the Indian Premier League (IPL).

The middle order consists of talented batters like Marcus Stoinis, Travis Head, who may need some guidance from Smith.

The biggest concern for Smith, however, is the bowling department. Spin bowling is an essential aspect of playing in the subcontinent.

 

With 25-year-old Adam Zampa leading the line in terms of spin bowling, the Aussies could be in for a tough time against the Indian batters, who are known to be good players of spin. Zampa’s leg-breaks, though, can serve the purpose of stifling the runs.

There are a couple of problems in Australia’s pace department as well. First choice pacemen like Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc have been ruled out of the series. However, that is not a problem that Australia cannot solve.

Smith has the likes of Nathan Coultier-Nile, Pat Cummins and James Faulkner to pick from, for his pace attack. Although this attack does not seem to have much experience, especially on Indian pitches, Coultier-Nile’s good run with the Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL could come in handy.

 

Also the presence of all-rounders like Faulkner and Glenn Maxwell helps Smith bring balance to the side, an essential part of limited-overs cricket.

Squad:

Steve Smith (c), Hilton Cartwright, Pat Cummins, Aaron Finch, Travis Head, Kane Richardson, Matthew Wade, Adam Zampa, Ashton agar, Nathan Coultier-Nile, James Faulkner, Peter Handscomb, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, David Warner.

Player to watch out for:

Glenn Maxwell, all-rounder

Maxwell, on his day, can do a lot of damage to the opposition bowlers. He is a player who can come in very handy, if the Aussies are in need of quick runs, both while chasing, and while batting first. In fact, he has a tremendous strike rate of 137.72 against India.

 

His ability to act as a second spinner makes him an even more important man on the Australian roster. Add his athleticism to that, and we have a player who can affect the game with the bat, the ball and from the field.

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