The history-making feat of the Indian cricket team is consigned to the history books.
Five days after securing the country’s first-ever Test series triumph on Australian soil, India don their blues and take the first steps towards the ‘big’ target of the year.
In less than five months, India, Australia and eight others will be embroiled in a fight for the biggest prize available in their sport – at the start of this three-match contest, both India and Australia have 13 ODIs to finish their fine-tuning.
For Virat Kohli’s side, the preparations have been off-set a bit by a needless off-field controversy, but even with the Hardik Pandya-KL Rahul Koffee With Karan fiasco, India are the much-more settled of the two units. Aside from being defending world champions, Australia don’t have much going for them in any form of international cricket.
Another Shot at Correcting a Blot
With one series win, India laid to rest the 71-year long ghost of red-ball cricket in Australia. While they do have a title in 50-overs cricket Down Under in the past, India’s overall record in Australia isn’t one to write home about.
India’s record may read somewhat better when it comes to day-night ODIs at Sydney – five wins out of 18 – but only two of those wins have come against the Aussies.
The last ODI meeting between the teams at the ground, though, resulted in the visitors chasing down 330 on the back of an unbeaten century from Manish Pandey.
That victory, incidentally, is the only instance of the chasing team winning in the last five day-nighters at the SCG – each of which has seen the side batting first post totals in excess of 300.
First Inns. Totals: Last 5 D/N ODIs at SCG
- 2018: Eng 302/6 vs Aus (Eng won by 16 runs)
- 2017: Aus 353/6 vs Pak (Aus won by 86 runs)
- 2016: Aus 324/8 vs NZ (Aus won by 68 runs)
- 2016: Aus 330/7 vs Ind (Ind won by 6 wickets)
- 2015: Aus 328/7 vs Ind (Aus won by 95 runs)
Recent Form: A No-Contest
India and Australia couldn’t be at more opposite ends of the form spectrum, if performances in the last year are taken into account.
In 2018, while India flew – thrashing South Africa in South Africa and winning the Asia Cup – Australia, in the wake of the ball-tampering scandal, endured their annus horribilis.
One look at the rankings, and the gulf becomes clear: India are the only team within sight of England at the summit, even as Australia’s dwindling fortunes have seen them plummet to sixth – their lowest ODI ranking since the Kerry Packer days of 1984.
Missing: Bumrah & Entire Aus Pace Attack
India have given Jasprit Bumrah a well-earned rest after his exploits during the Test series, where he bowled more overs than any pacer on either side. But if they are missing one fast-bowling spearhead, Australia are missing their entire first-choice pace battery.
Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins have all been rested keeping in mind the workload of a World Cup and an Ashes summer in England on the horizon. Australia’s pace attack, instead, will feature newcomers Jhye Richardson and Jason Behrendorff alongside 34-year-old Peter Siddle – who will play his first ODI since November 2010.
In Bumrah’s absence, India will get to test their bench strength as well. At least one out of Mohammed Shami and Khaleel Ahmed is certain to slot into their XI besides Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
Can Aus Stop India’s Big Bats?
Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan. Virat Kohli.
Aaron Finch, Alex Carey, Usman Khawaja.
It’s a mismatch of gigantic proportions at the top of the order, and that’s not to do any disservice to the Australian lineup – it’s just that India possess, by a distance, the most in-form top-three in the 50-over game.
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