Australia might have the Ashes on the mind, but they will make a pit-stop on the way home from Bangladesh with a long limited overs tour of India on the cards.
The Australians haven’t played any one-day cricket since they were bounced out of the Champions Trophy in the group stage. What followed has been a tumultuous period, with the pay dispute leading agendas for months.
It was sorted just in time for Australia to tour Bangladesh though, with the two Test matches there proving to be difficult for the tourists. They lost the first Test, Bangladesh’s first victory over the men from down under, before bouncing back to claim the second and draw the series.
Of course, the main focus for the Australians moving forward is the Ashes. The five-Test series starts in November, but under the current agreement between Cricket Australia and the Board of Control for Cricket in India, the sides must play bilateral series against each other every year in at least one format.
Australia’s last tour to India came in March, with a four-Test series. The hosts were expected to cruise to an easy victory, but Australia played out of their skin. It was by far their best sub-continental tour in the last decade, despite losing the fourth Test and the series 2-1.
That series doesn’t give us much of a form guide heading into the ODI series though. While the pitches in Australia’s last two Test series were turners, the pitches expected to be provided for this tour will be flat, enabling plenty of runs to be scored.
For evidence of that, you only need to look back to 2013, when Australia last toured India in the short format of the game. In seven matches, the lowest first innings total was 295, while three of the matches saw more than 350 scored – and that was with a washout.
George Bailey was the key destroyer on that tour for the Australian’s, although he isn’t with the squad this time. Glenn Maxwell scored 248 runs at 41 during the series though, and he will be keen to follow up some strong form in Bangladesh.
(AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)
David Warner and Steve Smith will form an integral part of the Australian batting line-up, while Aaron Finch is likely to join Warner at the top of the order.
Australia do have some what of a second string attack though, missing strike weapons Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood, who are both injured and racing the clock to be fit for the Ashes.
While Australia struggled at the Champions Trophy, there was no such problems for Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni and the Indian team. They made it all the way to the final, before being sensationally beaten by arch-rivals Pakistan at The Oval.
They aren’t short of some form heading into this series though, having just trumped Sri Lanka in all three forms of the game away from home. Playing nine tour games (three Tests, five ODI’s and a T20), India didn’t drop one.
Captain Kohli was smoking them left, right and centre, hitting 330 runs in the ODI series while dangerous opening combination Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma both scored a century in the 50-over format.
Australia’s bowlers will have nightmares remembering Sharma, who tore them to shreds in the high-scoring 2013 series. He was the top run scorer with 491 runs in six innings, including a double hundred, which he hit in the final game as India scored 383 in Bangalore.
Their bowlers were also strong in Sri Lanka with pace bowler Jasprit Bumrah, known for his death bowling, taking 15 wickets and being named player of the series.
India’s form sounds an ominous warning for Australia ahead of the series, but Australia can take some comfort knowing they have won three of the last four bi-lateral series played in India between the sides.
Last five meetings
January 23, 2016 – Australia defeated by by 6 wickets at Sydney Cricket Ground
January 20, 2016 – Australia defeat India by 25 runs at Manuka Oval, Canberra
January 17, 2016 – Australia defeat India by 3 wickets at Melbourne Cricket Ground
January 15, 2016 – Australia defeat India by 7 wickets at Gabba, Brisbane
January 12, 2016 – Australia defeat India by 5 wickets at W.A.C.A, Perth
Last five series
2016 – Australia defeat India 4-1 in Australia (five-match series)
2013 – India defeat Australia 3-2 in India (seven-match series)
2011 – Australia defeat India 1-0 in India (three-match series)
2009 – Australia defeat India 4-2 in India (seven-match series)
2007 – Australia defeat India 4-2 in India (seven-match series)
David Warner is in fine form and will go for broke in India
Australia’s aggressive opener has never had a problem scoring runs in the shorter formats of the game, no matter where he is playing around the world.
If flat pitches are again rolled out in India though, it could be five back-to-back centuries for Warner. It has that kind of feel around it at the moment, remembering how good he was through the Bangladesh series.
Warner was the only batsmen to score a century during the series, and he ended up with two to his name. His patience was something we haven’t often seen in Asia, but he could throw the shackles off here.
After the defensive mindset he showed in Bangladesh, it’s time for Warner to go back to his natural game, and India’s bowlers will be on the other end of it.
(AAP Image/David Mariuz)
If flat pitches are the nature of the beast, Australia’s attack isn’t good enough
Australia’s attack has some serious question marks hanging over it. With no Hazlewood, no Starc and the accurate John Hastings missing, it’s going to heap pressure on Patrick Cummins.
The Australian selectors would have almost certainly preferred to rest him for a few matches on this tour, and they may still do that, but he is now the strike weapon.
After leading the attack in Bangladesh, being the only pace bowler to extract anything out of the turning wickets, he will need to do something similar in India, having the effect Starc normally has. Raw pace is the way to do it in India on flat wickets, and Cummins has that X-Factor to his name.
Behind him though, it’s hard to see how Australia keep India to chasable scores. While they are chock-a-block full of all-rounders – Maxwell, James Faulkner, Ashton Agar, Hilton Cartwright, Travis Head and Marcus Stoinis – the pace options don’t spark much confidence.
Kane Richardson and Nathan Coulter-Nile are the others, while Adam Zampa has been included as the frontline spinner.
Richardson and Coulter-Nile are far from poor bowlers, but containing India on a flat wicket is another story altogether.
Regardless, the procession of all-rounders means Faulkner will bat at eight and maybe No.9 depending on team balance, so Australia will bat deep. They are going to have score plenty of runs though, because restricting India to 350 appears like it might be a small victory without seeing the pitches.
How to stop Virat Kohli
Sri Lanka couldn’t in their recent series, with Kohli destroying them in all three formats of the game.
Australia found a way during their Test tour of India in March though. Kohli had been in stunning form leading to that series as well, but he exited the Australian tour with consecutive failures, scoring very few runs.
This feels different though. In one day cricket on flat pitches it is a lot tougher to stop consistently good batsmen, and with Australia’s attacking lacking the Mitchell Starc factor, Kohli could have a field day.
We all know what he is capable of, so if Australia don’t get him out early as they did during the Test matches, the problems are going to be extreme.
Patrick Cummins is going to be the best option. He must be fresh and ready to bowl three or four overs of attacking, fast bowling at the body of Kohli, mixed with yorkers as soon as he comes in.
That will get him backing away, playing everything off the back foot and you’d hope to squeeze a yorker through him. Do that, or it will be curtains for the Australian’s who will spend the rest of the innings retrieving leather out of the crowd from the blade of the Indian captain.
(AP Photo/Rui Vieira)
If Jasprit Bumrah bowls to his potential, Australia won’t score more than 300
At just 23 years of age, Bumrah has emerged as one of the best ODI death bowlers in the world. With just 21 ODI’s to his name, Bumrah has 42 wickets at 20.87. Even more impressive though, is his career economy, going at under five runs per over.
Playing a majority of ODI cricket in the sub-continent on flat pitches, they are astronomical numbers. His sling-like action makes him incredibly hard to read, his pace makes him dangerous, and his consistency is there to top it all off.
Bumrah made his international debut in India’s T20 tour of Australia during 2016 and immediately grabbed attention. He was a strong performer in all three matches, and the quick was then selected for the T20 world cup.
If he bowls as he recently did in Sri Lanka, where he took combined figures of 18 for 169 from the five matches, then Australia aren’t going to get to 300 in any match. That’s how good he is.
Steve Smith’s captaincy will be given a thorough examination
The longer Smith spends in the captain’s role, the more it seems to be questioned if he is the best option. Particularly on the sub continent, some of his bowling selections in the March Test series were baffling.
All-rounder Maxwell barely bowled an over for the entire tour, even though it was glaringly obvious he needed to. It rolled on in Bangladesh as he overlooked Ashton Agar plenty during the second Test, despite Stephen O’Keefe not setting the world on fire.
The pressure on Smith is enormous to get it right, but if Australia don’t win this series, the scrutiny on the skipper is only going to continue growing.
Is there a point to playing a frontline spinner?
Zampa might have been included in the squad for the Australian’s, and it seems almost silly to be discussing this, but hear me out.
Australia have so many all-rounders in the side. Of them, Maxwell, Head, Agar and even Smith and Finch can bowl spin. In fact, Finch has been given plenty of ODI overs throughout his time in the side.
So, with that being said, should Australia go for more batting depth? Taking into account the weakness of the pace attack, Australia need a hell of a lot of runs.
On flat wickets, spin is likely to be ineffective anyway, so could Australia ditch Zampa, still of the quicks, have Faulkner at nine and one of the all rounders at eight, and still have six or seven bowling options?
It would allow the men in green and gold to go for broke earlier in the innings, looking to rack up 350 every time and put India under pressure.
In truth, it’s probably not going to happen, but it’s something the selectors shouldn’t be ruling out altogether, given Head and Finch have both bowled before Zampa in ODI matches previously.
(AAP Image/SNPA, John Cowpland)
Key Game Information: India vs Australia ODI series
Full series fixtures
1st ODI: Sunday, September 17 at MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chepauk, Chennai (6pm AEST)
2nd ODI: Thursday, September 21 at Eden Gardens, Kolkata (6pm AEST)
3rd ODI: Sunday, September 24 at Holkar Cricket Stadium, Indore (6pm AEST)
4th ODI: Thursday, September 28 at M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore (6pm AEST)
5th ODI: Sunday, October 1 at Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium, Jamtha, Nagpur (7pm AEST)
First ball: 1st-4th ODI: 6pm (AEST), 5th ODI: 7pm (AEST)
TV: Live, Fox Sports 506
Online: Live, Foxtel Now, Foxtel app
Betting: India $1.45, Australia $2.70
Overall record: Played 123, Australia 72, India 41, no result 10
Last series: 2016 – Australia defeat India 4-1 in Australia
Last meeting: Jan 23, 2016 – India defeat Australia by 6 wickets at Sydney Cricket Ground
Record in India: Played 51, Australia 22, India 19, no result 10
Virat Kohli (c), Jasprit Bumrah, Yuzvendra Chahal, Shikhar Dhawan, MS Dhoni, Kedar Jadhav, Kuldeep Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Ajinkya Rahane, Lokesh Rahul, Rohit Sharma, Umesh Yadav
Steve Smith (c), Ashton Agar, Hilton Cartwright, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Pat Cummins, James Faulkner, Aaron Finch, Travis Head, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade (wk), David Warner (vc), Adam Zampa
Hours of play
Add one hour to these times for the fifth ODI.
||Start time (AEST)
||Finish time (AEST)
||Start time (local)
||Finish time (local)
||3 hours and 30 minutes
||3 hours and 30 minutes
Hours of play are subject to change due to game situation, weather etc.
Australia’s second string attack leaves a lot of questions. Adam Zampa has been shelled before, and only Cummins is inspiring any confidence.
Even without luck at the Champions Trophy, Australia’s ODI form isn’t great. They lost their last series in India with arguably a stronger outfit, and this Indian side are in fine form.
They crushed the Sri Lankan’s without raising a sweat. This could be pretty lopsided.
The Roar will also be providing a live blog of each match, as well as highlights.