India and Australia have developed a well respected and healthy rivalry over the last decade or so, one that has not always been the most pleasant on the field. The fact that their captains are fighting with each other for the mantle of the best batsman in the world could also have to do with it or it could be just two aggressive teams meeting each other head-on.
This may be just another ODI series that does not have much relevance in the larger scheme of things but there is no doubt that every match will be fought keenly.
India has been on an absolute tear in ODI cricket of late. The only glitch could be their loss in the finals of the Champions Trophy to Pakistan but apart from that, every single objective has been met. The team has become fitter than ever before and moved on from some of its stalwarts like Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina without any hiccups.
Most importantly, this team now possesses real depth in its bowling set up and the ability to compete on any kind of surface. In Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, the team has brilliant death bowlers while the test match pair of Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin have been discarded for wrist spinners, Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal.
The only questions that still remain could be about Ajinkya Rahane and his ability to be the aggressive opener in place of Dhawan and KL Rahul’s role in the middle order. MS Dhoni has not been at his attacking best but that is something that is now left to Hardik Pandya and Kedar Jadhav.
A few things have however remained the same and that is the form of Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma. Both of them are coming into this series after making heaps of runs in Sri Lanka and both of them would love to build on their fantastic ODI record against Australia.
This will be a series where the batsmen will be served up flat wickets on which to go crazy and there is no one better at that then these two. The real challenge for India will start if they lose Kohli and Sharma early.
We think India is going to be difficult to beat at home but they are by no means invincible. Australia lost the series in 2013 3-2 but won in 2007 and 2009 quite convincingly.
A tough tour of Bangladesh where Australia rallied to finish 1-1 would have given the visitors plenty of confidence ahead of this ODI series. Of course, it is not like they are going to get tracks that spin or spit at them but knowing they have the ability to face those kinds of surfaces with success is definitely a plus.
Australia has been finding ODI games away from home a bit tough for some time now. They had a poor Champions Trophy, were blanked out in South Africa and are now facing an in-form India in their home conditions.
However, if there is one place that the Aussies are familiar with outside of their country then it is India. Every major Aussie players plays the IPL regularly where they traverse the country playing at all major centers and against every up and coming player that India has to offer.
Kuldeep Yadav and YUzvendra Chahal may be unknown entities to most players around the world but David Warner, Glenn Maxwell, Steve Smith, Travis Head and James Faulkner would have faced them plenty of times in match situations or in the nets.
Every bowler in this Aussie side knows the conditions they are about to encounter and the skills that they need to succeed. Conditions in limited overs cricket may not make much of a difference to the Aussies in India anymore.
The biggest threats for the Indians in this series are going to be David Warner and Steve Smith. Warner is an absolute beast in the IPL and has just started to hit his stride in ODI’s. An in-form David Warner against the hard new ball on flat pitches could be very entertaining to watch.
Steve Smith and Glenn Maxwell also should be able to get plenty of runs but will require support from Travis Head, Marcus Stoinis, and Mathew Wade. If Faulkner gets into the eleven then this will increase the batting depth to number 8.
Even Coulter-Nile and Pat Cummins can bat so the Aussies cannot be counted out in this batting extravaganza. Their bowling lineup is also pretty impressive and we believe it will be Pat Cummins who will be the most successful on this tour.
He has real pace and the ability to surprise batsmen with bounce off the deck. Coulter-Nile had a great IPL and showed he can be effective in these conditions but he could be the perfect pace for the Indian batsmen.
Adam Zampa will probably be the lone spinner supported by all-rounders like Faulkner, Stoinis, and Maxwell.
The pitch at Chennai will be excellent for batting and a score of 300 should be considered par. Conditions are expected to be humid and very sapping in the day time so expect both teams to want to bat first. A rain interruption may also happen in the second half of the game.
We are backing an upset to start off things as we believe India has vulnerabilities that the Australians can exploit. Australia to win.