March 02, 2020. 8 months and 25 days. Yep! That’s how long it has been since Team India last played an international fixture. That was, of course, the last day of the disastrous two-match Test series in New Zealand that the Men in Blue lost 0-2. After such a long break thanks to the Wuhan virus, the Virat Kohli-led Team India will take center stage in what is billed as the ‘clash of titans’ as the three-match ODI series against Australia gets underway at the iconic Sydney Cricket Ground.
2020 has been such a long year that it is so easy to forget that India and Australia locked horns in an ODI series way back in January. That series started with Australia smashing the Indians by 10 wickets in Mumbai before the home side came roaring back to win the next two to claim the rubber. A lot has changed since then. India went on to lose all the three ODIs in New Zealand while Australia completed a brilliant 2-1 series win over world champions England back in September thanks to hundreds from Glenn Maxwell and Alex Carey.
All of that, however, will not matter given the fact that there has been so little international cricket in the past few months. India won the last bilateral series that they played in Australia [2-1] but things wouldn’t be as easy as they were last time around considering that the fact that they do not have Rohit Sharma in their ranks and the home side have been bolstered with the addition of David Warner and Steve Smith, which wasn’t the case during the last tour.
Justin Langer said in the lead-up to the series that Australia was looking at a straight swap of Mitchell Marsh, who played the last ODI in England, with Steve Smith. That leaves Australia with the task of leaving Marnus Labuschagne out if they want to play another all-rounder in the form of Cameron Green or Moises Henriques in the side. However, that is unlikely to happen.
Probable XI: David Warner, Aaron Finch [C], Steve Smith, Marnus Labuschagne, Glenn Maxwell, Alex Carey [WK], Marcus Stoinis, Adam Zampa, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood.
With Rohit Sharma unavailable for selection, it will be interesting if India persists with the incumbent Mayank Agarwal for the opening spot or do they go with Shubman Gill. Agarwal, given his recent IPL form, should get the nod ahead of Gill.
The rest of the batting line-up pretty much picks itself with skipper Virat Kohli at 3 followed by Shreyas Iyer, wicketkeeper KL Rahul, and Hardik Pandya- who will play as a specialist batsman. Ravindra Jadeja, considering he is the only all-rounder in the squad, is a lock at No.7 while Yuzvendra Chahal should pip Kuldeep Yadav for the second spinner’s slot. Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah will lead the fast bowling department and it will be interesting to see if India persists with Navdeep Saini or do they go with Shardul Thakur due to his handy lower-order batting.
With this being the first game of the summer, the pitch remains an unknown territory. However, traditionally, the pitch at Sydney has generally produced high scoring matches.
The last time India played an ODI at the SCG, Australia successfully defended their total of 5-288. In fact, the last 5 ODIs at the venue has seen teams batting first notch up a win on each occasion.
It is expected to be a sunny day in Sydney on Friday. According to the weather report, the temperatures are expected to hover between 19-24 degrees celsius while the humidity is set to be around.
Head to head:
Played – 140
Won by Australia– 78
Won by India– 52
No result – 10
Stats that matter:
133 – Virat Kohli is just 133 runs away from becoming the fastest to cross the 12,000-run-mark in ODI cricket. Kohli currently has 11,867 runs to his name in just 239 innings at an average of 59.34.
9– Yuzvendra Chahal is 9 wickets away from 100 ODI scalps. Chahal has claimed these wickets in just 52 matches. If he manages to achieve 9 more in the next three games, then he will become the fastest India to achieve the feat. The current record-holder is Mohammed Shami, who achieved the same in 56 games.
18-17– India’s W/L ratio against Australia in 37 ODIs since the start of 2010. 2 games have ended in an N/R.
1211– Runs Aaron Finch has scored against India. He is currently Australia’s highest run-getter in ODIs vs India.
1– Number of games India has won at the SCG against Australia since 2010. Out of the 5 games, Australia has won three, including the most recent one, while one has ended in an N/R.
60.46– Steve Smith’s average in 15 ODI innings against India. Out of his 9 ODI tons, three of them have come against the Men in Blue, including the one he scored at the SCG in the 2015 World Cup semi-final.
50– Number of wickets Mohammed Shami has taken since the start of 2019. It is the most by any bowler, followed by Pat Cummins and Adam Zampa, who have taken 43 apiece.
5-2– India’s record against Australia as far as bilateral series wins are concerned in the past decade. Since the start of 2010, both sides have locked horns in 7 bilateral rubbers, five of which have been won by the Men in Blue. Overall, the head-to-head tally stands at 6-6.
#INDvAUS Bilateral series results since Jan 2010:
2010- 🇮🇳 (1-0)/3 – Venue: 🇮🇳
2013- 🇮🇳 (3-2)/7 – Venue: 🇮🇳
2016- 🇭🇲 (4-1)/5 – Venue: 🇭🇲
2017- 🇮🇳 (4-1)/5 – Venue: 🇮🇳
2019- 🇮🇳 (2-1)/3 – Venue: 🇭🇲
2019- 🇭🇲 (3-2)/5 – Venue: 🇮🇳
2020- 🇮🇳 (2-1)/3 – Venue: 🇮🇳#AUSvINDonSony #INDvAUS pic.twitter.com/67ZwyFwEtx
— Yash Mittal 🇮🇳 (@im_yash2307) November 25, 2020
India has had a lid over the Aussies in 50-over cricket in the past few years. The Men in Blue have won three of the last four bilateral rubbers since the start of 2017. However, given the fact that India are perennially slow starters and their recent dismal run at the SCG, expecting Australia to draw the first blood.