After a Test series which ended up much more competitive than expected, India and Australia now leave the red ball behind to focus on white ball cricket for the next few days as an ODI series begins in Mumbai on Friday.
Usually an ODI series following a competitive Test series could be down the list of priorities but with a World Cup in this part of the world in seven months this one could be even more important than what has gone on over the last month or so.
Although we are getting closer to the World Cup coming along, India are still trying things out with their squad in these bilateral limited overs series to ensure that they have the best personnel available to them when that tournament comes along. In a way that seems a bit strange because it is likely to be the IPL which is where those hoping to forge their case for inclusion will do so. Nevertheless, those included get a chance to own the shirt.
We’ve seen in the past that it doesn’t seem to matter which combination India employ with the bat they tend to be more than competitive but their results can be determined by their bowlers. There is still no Jasprit Bumrah so they are still looking for that leader of the attack in his absence. India won the Test series through their spinners on turning tracks but you would imagine they will need to call upon their seamers a lot more in this series.
Not too many judges gave Australia much of a chance to be competitive in the Test series but they went into the final match of the four still in with an opportunity of securing a draw. That didn’t happen but they can certainly take comfort from how competitive they were and that they achieved the overall aim of qualifying for the World Test Championship final. Now they turn their attentions onto the 50 over world title with three matches which can really help their World Cup preparations.
Australia are usually always competitive in the 50 over game and the reason for that is the strength, quality and depth of their bowling attack, particularly the seamers. They do have a few injuries in that department though coming into this opening match which might open the door for some all-rounders to play. It could get Cameron Green into the side which would certainly balance Australia nicely in conditions which should suit batting.
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There will be no Rohit Sharma or Jasprit Bumrah for India in this opening match. KL Rahul will keep wicket and play in the middle order with Hardik Pandya leading the side. The makeup of the bowling attack is yet to be determined.
Glenn Maxwell will make his return from injury in this match. Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins are unavailable so unless they use all-rounders as their seam options Sean Abbott or Nathan Ellis will fight for a new ball spot.
If you have watched any edition of the IPL which has been held in India then you won’t need me to tell you that this is something of a batting paradise, particularly when it comes to hitting boundaries. These two actually took part in the last ODI on this ground. That was three years ago and relatively low scoring by the standards of this ground and yet there were still 63 boundaries so I’m a little surprised that the boundary line is only 5.5 higher.
The reason why I expect more boundaries here is twofold. The first is that the game has continued to evolve in those three years and runs come more naturally and the second is because both teams are missing a number of first choice bowlers. Even though one or two leading lights with the bat aren’t here, there is more than enough depth for both teams to prosper with the bat and with the dew also likely to be an issue I expect a high scoring game where the 68.5 boundaries line is no nearly enough.
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