India vs Australia | Wednesday 16 October | Jaipur | 10:00
While tours to India comprising of the five-day variety of the game have generally ended in misery for the Australians, they have achieved success in their limited overs stints on the subcontinent. They have begun this tour no differently, despite losing out in the final over of their T20 fixture. Australia took the opening ODI by 72-runs as India had no answer to their powerful batting display and raw pace. India’s number one ODI ranking is on line in this series, though admittedly they would have to lose it 1-6 to be stripped of the title. It would be miraculous for the Australians to achieve such a feat, but a series win looks well within their grasp.
Priding themselves on their ability to reach even the most daunting of totals, a surprising stat emerges that India have never successfully chased 300-plus against Australia in eleven attempts. Sheer pace on the part of Mitchell Johnson, coupled with clever spells from both Clint McKay and Shane Watson put pay to India’s chances on Sunday, with three wickets for James Faulkner and none for Xavier Doherty proving spin is not always needed on the subcontinent. India’s own spinners were accurate and appeared threatening, but it was their seamers who were put to the sword and released pressure from the Australian batsmen. India’s top order batsmen, Shikhar Dhawan excluded, were afforded starts but none were able to convert. Virat Kohli with 61 and Suresh Raina with 39 built a healthy partnership and kept India in the hunt, but it was poor shot selection that led to their downfall. The hosts have some work to do if they hope to turn the series around. They have batsmen in form but will need to restrict Australia in the field, history dictating that they struggle to score at above 6-an-over against quality pace bowling.
There have been a few reasons identified for Australia’s success in the one-day game in India. One of these is that past success breeds success, with less pressure on the limited overs unit. Another is the increase of expectancy on the part of the Indian public, who embrace the one-day game like no other community on Earth. The reason that is most pertinent however, is the difference of a test wicket to that of a one-day strip. Over five days, the test patch will wear, crack and crumble to pieces, allowing spinners a degree of purchase bordering on the absurd. In the hundred overs necessary to complete a one-dayer, the pitch hardly changes at all and they are prepared to promote an exciting game. Groundsmen in India may even allow some grass to develop in order to hold the pitch together after a particularly demanding fixture. This all works in the favour of Australia. However, I’ll hazard to add another reason. IPL exposure. Much of the Australian limited overs setup ply their T20 trade in the IPL, Finch, Johnson, Watson, Maxwell and Faulkner particularly successful. India is no longer a country hardly travelled, but more a home away from home in the colour uniform.
Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur plays host to the second ODI and is somewhat of an enigma for having held only one test match, back in 1987. It has swayed in and out of favour as an ODI venue, but India have won the last two matches hosted here, both in 2010. It’s a high scoring ground, 300 being par. The weather forecast is clear.
BEST: Top Australian Batsman, Aaron Finch 3/1
Captain George Bailey continued his phenomenal ODI form with the top score in the first fixture, and at 4/1 is always a handy bet. But the real man in form is Aaron Finch. He has been devastating of late but with the Ashes looming and having been given responsibility at the top of the order, he will be looking to show a more composed side to his game.
VERDICT: Australia 27/20
There is always a bit of added pace at Jaipur and with the ground being excellent for scoring, I fear the Indian side may be caught short in the same departments once again. They’ll have their own later in the series, but I think this fixture will cause MS Dhoni some serious cause for reflection. Back the visitors at a great price.
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