India-Australia to reignite their rivalry with a 3-match ODI series!
India will win the match!
The last time Australia had toured India for an ODI series in 2018, they had registered a terrific 3-2 win. That series win was special because it was by an Australian side sans Steve Smith and David Warner and put the team back on track after a year of decline.
The current Australian side led by Aaron Finch is brimming with confidence and has both Smith and Warner back in the squad along with other talents. They will pose a serious challenge to India in the upcoming 3-match ODI series beginning on 14th January at Mumbai.
Team India is coming off a comprehensive 2-0 T20I series against Sri Lanka at home and has also beaten Bangladesh and West Indies in limited-overs series recently. They have good form and balance in the squad and would certainly enjoy the home advantage. However, taking on this Australian side won't be easy. The two teams have produced exciting contests and we can expect a closely fought series when they collide this time round.
India skipper Virat Kohli would be the main man to watch out for in the first ODI against Australia. The team has a solid top order with openers Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan, along with Kohli doing the bulk of the scoring. It would be interesting to see if the team goes for KL Rahul who has been in a brilliant form of late. Then there is Shreyas Iyer who has been doing a superb job of holding the middle-order together.
India's concern is with the lower middle-order which has been fragile. The likes of Rishabh Pant and Kedar Jadhav have been inconsistent and Shivam Dube is too inexperienced. India's bowling is in much better shape. The return of Jasprit Bumrah has bolstered the team and he would be a potent force against the strong Australian batting. Mohammed Shami would give an able company to Bumrah.
The young pacer Shardul Thakur has been really impressive and so has been Navdeep Saini. Thakur is likely to get the nod ahead of Saini in this game. Leg-spinner Kuldeep Yadav, who has done well against Australia, is expected to be the lead spinner along with all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja who has been decent. If the wicket grips a little, these bowlers would be more than handy in the game.
Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli (C), Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant(wk), Shivam Dube, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Shardul Thakur, Jasprit Bumrah
Shreyas Iyer, Lokesh Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan, Kuldeep Yadav, Rohit Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja, JJ Bumrah, Rishabh Pant, Virat Kohli, SN Thakur, Mohammed Shami
Australia is a confident side and has a powerful team. Openers Aaron Finch and David Warner are a formidable opening combo and have the experience of playing in the IPL in India. They are likely to be the biggest threat to India in this match and the entire series. If both get going, then they can easily take the game away from the home team. Apart from these two, the team also has the magnificent Steve Smith along with the young sensation Marnus Labuschagne in the middle-order.
The talented Alex Carey has proven to be a terrific finisher and will be watched out for. Allrounder Ashton Agar is also slated to take up a pivotal role in the series and could be the surprise package in this game.
Australia’s talisman with the ball Pat Cummins will again be the main weapon for them against India. He along with Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood will be a serious challenge for the Indian batsmen. Another bowler who could make an impact is leg-spinner Adam Zampa who has improved significantly and has troubled the Indian batsmen recently.
Aaron Finch (c), David Warner, Steven Smith, Marnus Labuschagne, Alex Carey(wk), D’Arcy Short, Ashton Agar, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Adam Zampa, Kane Richardson/Josh Hazlewood.
AJ Turner, Aaron Finch, Marnus Labuschagne, Pat Cummins, Alex Carey, Mitchell Starc, KW Richardson, Ashton Agar, Steven Smith, David Warner, Adam Zampa
The pitch at the Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai, is expected to be a good one for batting with some help for the slower bowlers as the innings progresses. There will be a movement to exploit for the seamers in the initial overs but the batsmen should make merry here and will enjoy batting for most of the innings. The weather in Mumbai is expected to bright, cool and clear for the match day.
The Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai has produced some memorable ODI encounters over the past several years. The highest total achieved here is a mammoth 438-4 by South Africa v India in 2015. However, this isn't a traditionally high-scoring venue and totals of 300-plus have been achieved only twice here since the first game was played back in 1987. The average first innings total at the Wankhede Stadium is 239 and the average second innings score is 205.
The team winning the toss is likely to bowl first because this is the winter season and the dew will be a major factor in the 2nd innings which will benefit the team chasing.
In the last 5 ODIs between India and Australia, only 2 have been won by the Men in Blue. Australia had won 3 games in a row to win the series when they had toured India last year. However, India got the better of Australia when they faced off last in an ODI - at the ICC ODI World Cup 2019 in England.
Thus, one cannot say for certain who will come out on tops when they meet again this time. We can, however, be certain to expect top-quality and entertaining cricket action. This Australia side has the ability to topple India, especially if they can target their weak middle and lower order and exploit the spinners who have been struggling of late.
However, the thing that goes against them is that they would have no time to acclimatize to the conditions before the 1st ODI begins. India will certainly have the home advantage and their strong top-order along with variety in seam bowling makes them the favorites for this game. But rule out Australia at your own peril. For now, backing India as the winners for the 1st ODI is the safest option.
India will win the match!