India vs Australia - Only T20 Preview

Written by Maverick White for @HollywoodbetsFollow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!

India vs Australia | Thursday 10 October | Rajkot | 15:30

Australia return to the scene of a demoralising 4-0 test drubbing at the hands of subcontinent giants India. It was an almost farcical series, with former Australian coach Mickey Arthur dishing out homework assignments and subsequent suspensions amid landslide defeats. This time, their arrival is for a seven-match ODI series and a solitary T20. India possess, without a doubt, the strongest limited-overs squad on the planet. One would expect that the Australians would need to be fully focussed on the task at hand in the face of such a daunting prospect, but with the Ashes sequel at looming at the end of November, attention has already been diverted. Indeed, this series is far from adequate preparation for the few test players involved.  

To Win
India 11/20
Tie 35/1
Australia 14/10

India
The strength within the Indian batting lineup, especially with regards to limited overs cricket, is unparallelled in the game today. The selectors have decided to stick with the opening partnership of Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma, both in sublime form. Sharma has had a fantastic 2013, leading the Mumbai Indians to the IPL and CLT20 double. The middle-order is jam-packed with talent, with Suresh Raina stylish as always on flat tracks, followed by the likes of Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni, Ravi Jadeja and Ambati Rayudu. Yuvraj Singh makes return to the fold after a lengthy absence, following a fitness regime in France and impressive scores for India A. Murali Vijay and Dinesh Karthik will miss out, the latter so useful yet unable to cement a regular place. Irfan Pathan is sidelined due to injury, making way for Mohammed Shami, and Jaydev Unadkat has been preferred to Umesh Yadav. Often erratic, yet possessing an extra yard of pace, Yadav is a puzzling omission. He is neither injured, nor due to be rested. It could signal that the selectors view him in a test cricket capacity, or that they are weary of his limited overs economy rate. Ishant Sharma should open the bowling and Vinay Kumar is another seamer in the squad. Bearing in mind that Australia only have three left-handed batsmen, in addition to the part-time left-arm spin of Yuvraj, India have Ravi Jadeja as another left-arm spinner and Amit Mishra to bowl leg spin. Ravi Ashwin in the other spin option. 

Australia
While it must be recognised that the only regulars in the test squad travelling to India are Shane Watson and Brad Haddin, and to a degree Phil Hughes and Mitchell Johnson, there are larger problems at hand when it comes to this limited overs series. Australia travelled to India prior to a home Ashes series in 2010/11. They lost the test series 2-0, arrived back in Australia and were promptly defeated by an English side that were better prepared for the conditions than the hosts. The difference here is that it is a limited overs series, but it still adds an unnecessary distraction ahead of an already daunting task. Watson, Haddin, Hughes and Johnson will miss out on a Sheffield Shield game in the process, far better preparation for the test arena than this tour. It also adds another dimension for the Ashes selectors; while on the hunt for a decent test number three and six, do they take into account limited overs performances in India? In any case, Haddin has now usurped Wade for the wicketkeeping position in all formats, Warner continues his limited overs exile and Michael Clarke will miss out on the series due to his recurring back injury. 21-year-old Nic Maddinson has been included for the single T20 fixture and his performance will be important in the context of a future Australian opener. 

Venue
Rajkot has only ever hosted one ODI, and never a T20 international. The ground produced scores in excess of 300 in the ODI as therefore looks a good one for batting. At the time of writing, there is a 60% chance of thunderstorms predicted. 

BEST: Top Indian Batsman, Suresh Raina 9/2
Despite the Chennai Super Kings petering off in the CLT20, Suresh Raina was imperious. I expect him to translate his impressive form straight into the international game. He’s never a pick outside of India, but at home he is particularly belligerent and I think he’ll get a start with the form he is in. At 9/2, it’s a solid bet. 

VERDICT: India 11/20
With the firepower India possess in their batting lineup, I can’t foresee the Australians matching any total the Indians set, especially with their vulnerability against quality spin bowling. In reverse, I also can’t foresee them chasing down the hefty total that India would be sure to set. Back the home side.  

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