The limited over’s India – Australia series consists of a lone T20 and seven ODI’s. The timing of the series, sandwiched between two Ashes series, as well as its length has come under the scanner, with the former Australian captain Ian Chappell calling it as rubbish.
The series is the third seven match ODI rubber played in India between these two sides in the last 6 years with Australia winning 4-2 on both those occasions. The 2007 series was held at the backdrop of the monkey-gate scandal and India’s victory over Australia in the inaugural World T20 semi-finals. The series was seen as a revenge series and Australia won it quite convincingly.
India were odds on favorites to win the 2009 series, but for the close losses in Hyderabad – the match famous for Sachin’s knock of 175 and India’s subsequent collapse – Delhi and Australia once again took the series 4-2.
In comparison with the earlier sides, the present Aussie squad it certainly low on experience but they have won the last ODI series against England 2-1 and five of its players took part in the just concluded Champions League finals. So adjusting to the conditions would not be that much of a trouble for this side.
Besides the fight for the Number No.1 rankings – India are currently sitting pretty at the top of the rankings and Australia are placed second – and the battle between India’s batsmen and Australia’s bowlers, the series also holds many interesting individual clashes.
M.S.Dhoni Vs George Bailey:
The battle of the skippers takes a centre-stage in a cricket match with both captains trying to outsmart his counter-part. The finals of the tri-series against Sri Lanka in the West Indies showed how much the presence of the charismatic skipper means to the side. As usual Dhoni will be a key figure leading the side, besides taking responsibility as the team’s best batsman in this format.
Australia was dealt a huge blow when its captain Michael Clarke was ruled out. Clarke’s innovative captaincy makes a huge difference to the current Australian side and Bailey will have to be at his best to match that. Besides his batting, Bailey’s captaincy skills are widely talked about in the Australian domestic circuit and there has been some criticism of him being selected in the side solely for that reason. Pitted against a proven captain in limited overs cricket, Bailey will be having his task cut-out.
Shikhar Dhawan Vs James Faulkner:
Ever since being recalled into the Indian side, Dhawan has been in a purple patch and has not put a foot wrong since. The Australians would know a thing or two about him, as it was against them that he scored a record-breaking 187 in test debut at Mohali. Dhawan will be playing his first International at home following that breath-taking debut and it was against this opposition that he was out for a duck in his ODI debut.
Having played for Rajasthan Royals in the IPL and CLT20, Faulkner would not be finding it hard to acclimatize to the Indian conditions. He has had a good start to his International career so-far and his new-ball duel with Dhawan will be an engrossing one to watch.
Yuvraj Singh Vs Mitchell Johnson:
Yuvraj Singh is making a come-back to the Indian side after some sparkling showing in the ‘A’ series against the West Indies and the Challenger series. After a training stint in France, Yuvi has lost a few kilos and is looking as fit as he was in his prime. With both form and fitness in his side, Yuvraj would want to make a fresh beginning to his career. While comparison with his old-self is sure to be there, he would want to stay clear of that.
Johnson was back to his fiery best for the Mumbai Indians in the IPL, clocking speeds of around 150 kph. He picked up 9 wickets in the last series against England including a four-for in the first match. With his pace and slinging action, Johnson would be a potent weapon for his captain and Bailey would want to unleash him against Yuvraj to stop the south-paw from getting into his stride.
Bhuvaneshwar Kumar Vs Finch and Watson:
Kumar has been India’s biggest find in the last season. After making his debut against Pakistan in December last year, Kumar made his test debut against the visiting Australians and has quite easily transformed into becoming the leader of the pace pack.
Both Finch and Watson are known for their attacking style of batsmanship and if they get in could prove to be devastating in these flat Indian pitches. Finch captained Kumar in the IPL and both would have faced-off against each other quite often in the nets. Watson, though inconsistent in the Tests, is a force to reckon with in the limited overs format. Kumar has thrived on bowling with the new-ball and Dhoni would be hoping for some early wickets from him.
Australian middle-order Vs Indian spinners:
Jadeja and Ashwin played a crucial role in India’s triumph in the Champions Trophy. The weakness of the Australians against the spin bowling is no secret and these two spinners bamboozled them when the Australians were here the last time. With Yuvraj back in the side, it gives one more additional spinning option for Dhoni.
But Jadeja had a miserable Champions League and the Australians could certainly have taken a cue out of that. India’s weakness in death bowling is well-known and the opposition batsmen can well afford to play Ashwin out and take advantage of India;s wayward bowling in the final overs.
There are also other match-winners like Kohli, Raina, Rohit Sharma, Mckay, who could turn a match around on their own. This promises to be one interesting series.