If there was one series the entire cricketing world looked forward to, at the start of this year, it is India’s tour of Australia 2020-21. Pandemic, lockdown, the imposed restrictions, bio-bubble scenarios, and everything else that happened around it this year, have now intensified the contest even further. Just the existence of the relatively unaltered tour has brought joy for fans from around the globe. In fact, it is said that one may also see the return of spectators in the stadium in patches throughout the tour. But first, as the shorter formats get underway with the One Day International (ODI) series tomorrow, both India and Australia would look to have a winning start.
A ‘settled’ Australia Vs an ‘answers-seeking’ India:
Australians are always tough to go by, especially at home. The kind of belief and command they have over their game in home conditions is admirable. Moreover, the recent white-ball form of most players is pleasing to the eye, and dare I say, it is the most threatening Australian side from the last 5 years.
The force of Warner and Finch at the top, Smith and Labuschagne in the middle and Maxwell, Carey and Stoinis lower down with the bat, is most days unstoppable. Interestingly, the top 7 for Australia includes two all-rounders and a wicketkeeper, an area where their counterparts India lack truckloads. With uncertainty over Pandya’s ability to bowl at least a few overs, India is likely to go in with options for no extra options. The said scenario would also imply that India will field a fragile lower-middle order with minimal batting beyond Jadeja at no.7. The absence of Rohit Sharma might affect the Indian team, especially on the bouncy Australian wicket while the onus will be on the likes of Iyer, Agarwal and Rahul to deliver the goods for the Indian team.
Meanwhile, Virat Kohli against his favorite opposition and in his favorite country will look to dominate proceedings once again, both as a batsman and as a captain. The skipper will look to lead from the front and make the most of his limited time down under. It would also be exciting to see Virat manage the pace battery of Bumrah, Shami, Saini along with the spin of Chahal and Jadeja. The Indian bowling attack will carry an added responsibility due to the unavailability of a sixth bowling option. Whereas Australia are likely to field Starc, Cummins, Hazlewood and Zampa in a relatively simpler choice, letting India still finding the right answers.
India vs Australia ODI series: What to Expect?
India and Australia have both been away from international cricket for a long time now. Though most players have played a fair bit in the Indian Premier League, there might still exist a hesitation embracing the sport. The ODI, as well as the T20 series, will be played across the SCG and the Manuka Oval in Canberra before moving out for the longer formats. The conditions at the SCG are still unknown but the pitch is expected to be fresher than usual. SCG has been void of cricket for a long now and the teams could only know more about the conditions a little prior to the actual match.
The series will mark a start to the ICC World Cup Super League for both teams. Though India has already qualified as hosts and Australia is likely to make the cut as well, the series might play a key role in deciding the other potential qualifiers. One other thing to look forward to this series is the jerseys of both teams. While the Indians will field a jersey inspired by their own 1992 outfit, the Australians will sport a specially-crafted indigenous design on their shirts.
With all been said, the ODI series is guaranteed to be one hell of a contest, living up to the rivalry’s all-time legacy.