Australia v India ODI Series 2019 PreviewJames Nixon |
Australia’s struggling ODI team will attempt to get their World Cup preparations back on track when they host India for a best-of-three series in January. Aaron Finch’s men have slumped down to sixth in the world ODI rankings after losing recent series against South Africa, England and India. They are still shorn of the services of star batsmen Steve Smith and David Warner and Australian cricket remains in the doldrums following the ball tampering scandal that led to their ban. The ODI team could do with a victory to lift the spirits, but they face a formidable Indian side and they are unlikely to receive any charity from Virat Kohli and co.
These teams have been playing out a tempestuous Test series Down Under throughout December and Kohli has been involved in some heated clashes with the Australians. He should still carry plenty of fire and brimstone into the ODI series and that could spell danger for the Aussies. Kohli is the world’s number one ranked batsman in both Test and ODI formats and the Indian superstar will relish the battle in this upcoming series. Rohit Sharma, the number two ODI batsman in the world, is also Indian and Shikhar Dawan is ranked ninth.
The highest ranked Australian batsman is Warner and he will not be involved. Then you have to go down to 18th in the chart before you see Finch, who took over as ODI captain from Tim Paine in October, ahead of their series against South Africa. It did not go well, as they fell to a 2-1 series defeat. Finch managed just 11 runs in the decisive ODI and fellow opener was out for a big, fat zero as Australia lost by 40 runs. In the preceding series, they suffered a 5-0 whitewash at the hands of England.
The English are the world’s top ranked ODI side and if you check out Sporting Index, you will notice that they are the favourites to win the World Cup on their home turf next year. However, losing in such spectacular fashion was still embarrassing for Australia. In their previous ODI series, they lost 4-1 to India and New Zealand beat them 3-0 in the one before that. The last time Australia tasted success in an ODI series was when they beat Pakistan back in January 2017. Since then they have been through the mire with the ball tampering scandal and they desperately need to find an identity before the upcoming 2019 World Cup.
Australia are third in the betting to lift the trophy, but favourites England and second favourites India are comfortably ahead of them in the odds. Not only do India boast the world’s top two batsmen right now, Jasprit Bumrah is also top of the world ODI bowling rankings. Meanwhile, teammate Kuldeep Yadav is third and Yuzvendra Chahal is sixth. The highest placed Australian is Josh Hazlewood at 10th. India are the world’s number two ODI team in the ICC rankings and they should therefore go into this series full of confidence.
However, it will by no means be a slam-dunk for Kohli’s men. November’s T20 series between these teams finished all-square, showing that all hope is not lost for Australian white ball cricket. They have some powerful batsmen in the form of Finch, Glenn Maxwell and Shaun Marsh, and some devastatingly effective bowlers to call upon, including Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and Adam Zampa. They are trying to foster a new culture of respect and friendliness in the wake of the ball-tampering fiasco, but if they add a bit of Aussie aggression to their performances they might yet thrive in this series. They will certainly benefit from passionate home support and that could help them make things interesting, while they should also be more comfortable with the pitches.
The first ODI takes place at Sydney Cricket Ground on January 12, and the home supporters are still likely to be angry with Kohli, who was branded “disrespectful” for his actions in a heated second Test in December. The entire Australian cricket setup can take confidence from the nature of their victory in that match, and the ODI side will bid to follow in the Test team’s footsteps. The action will then switch to the Adelaide Oval for the second ODI, before the series is wrapped up in front 100,000 screaming fans at the iconic MCG on January 18. These teams will then lock horns again for a best-of-five ODI series in February and March, so they will be very well acquainted with one another by the time the World Cup rolls around in May, and it will be fascinating to see who comes out on top in this series.