Australia v India Tour: All Match Previews

The Indian Cricket Tour of Australia is here and on this page, we’ll have previews of every single match between Ind vs Aus.

India come to Australia in good form, outclassing the West Indies on their recent tour and have their eyes firmly set on the 2019 Cricket World Cup, led by their captain Virat Kohli.

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Friday, January 18th, 1:20pm AEDT, MCG

It all comes down to this with the winner of the third and final ODI at the MCG between Australia and India on Friday night taking out the trophy.

Australia

The Aussies couldn’t quite manage to get it done in Adelaide, going down by six wickets in an engrossing encounter that went down to the final over. Having won the toss and elected to bat in searing heat, the World Champions made a poor start as they stumbled to 2/26 in the eighth over with captain Aaron Finch (6 off 19 balls) now having been dismissed for 20 or less in seven of his past ten ODI innings’.

The hosts were rescued by a sublime innings from Shaun Marsh who stroked a masterful 131 off 123 balls, overcoming the immense temperatures to bring up his fourth ODI ton from his last eight innings’. Marsh struggled to find a regular partner until Glenn Maxwell added some punch late in the order with 48 off 37 balls, lifting Australia to 9/298.

India’s chase got off to a brilliant start as they reached 1/101 in the 18th over and although Jhye Richardson (1/59 off ten overs) overcame a difficult opening spell to peg back the visitors, a lack of specialist death bowlers came back to haunt the Aussies with India sneaking home with four balls remaining.

After another expensive display, Peter Siddle (0/58 off eight overs) may struggle to retain his place with Billy Stanlake and Adam Zampa waiting in the wings.

India

It was another textbook chase from India, although once again they will be disappointed with how their bowlers struggled for control in the back half of Australia’s innings. New-ball pair Bhuvneshwar Kumar (4/45 off ten overs) and Mohammed Shami (3/58 off ten overs) were simply superb, asking plenty of questions early then returning late to blunt the Aussies’ final assault.

Debutant Mohammad Siraj (0/76 off ten overs) endured a difficult afternoon, as did left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav who leaked 66 from his ten wicketless overs in one of his more profligate performances of late.

With the bat Shikhar Dhawan got the chase off a to a brisk start with 32 off 28 balls, and while opening partner Rohit Sharma (43 off 52 balls) took a bit longer to get going he eventually found his stride. However it was the indomitable skipper Virat Kohli who made the biggest mark, clouting a supreme 104 off 112 balls to anchor India’s innings perfectly.

When Kohli was dismissed with 57 still required for victory, veteran MS Dhoni (55 not out off 54 balls) took over, combining with Dinesh Karthik (25 off 14 balls) to ensure India kept the series alive. The third seamer spot remains the biggest quandary for the visitors, with spinner Yuzvendra Chahal the only unused frontline bowler in the squad.

MCG

Australia have actually lost their last two ODIs at the MCG, although prior to that they did win nine games straight there. If Finch calls correctly it will be interesting to see if he maintains his strategy of batting first with the side batting second winning five of the past six ODIs here.

Speaking of the Australian captain, he will be optimistic of a return to form given that he averages 52.20 in ODIs at the MCG with three centuries from ten appearances at the ground.

Key Stats

  • Australia have lost nine of their past 11 ODIs.
  • However Australia have won seven of their past nine ODI series’ at home.
  • India have won 11 of their past 12 ODI series’.
  • However India haven’t beaten Australia in an ODI at the MCG since 2008.
  • Virat Kohli has top-scored in four of his past eight ODIs.

The Verdict

Prices remain relatively unchanged from Adelaide with India favoured to claim a series victory over the plucky Australians.

Whilst they may have lost at the Adelaide Oval there was plenty to like about Australia’s performance. Perhaps the most impressive element is that they overcame adversity with both bat and ball to get themselves right in the game, recovering from early wickets lost to post a formidable total and dragging the game back when it seemed that Rohit and Kohli would bulldoze India to victory.

There does remain some significant chinks in their armour, most pressingly their concerns at the top of the order and a lack of variety with the ball at the death, however on the basis of what they’ve served up in the series I’m in no hurry to oppose them on this occasion.

India boast a number of match-winners in their squad and look well placed to run over the top of the Australians here, however they too are not without their flaws. Although their batting is incredibly strong there does appear to be an over-reliance on their captain, while in the field there are issues with their fifth bowler as well as alternate part-time options given that Hardik Pandya is no longer available, why Kedar Jadhav remains out of the starting XI.

So while I fancy the visitors to get the business done, I’d be wanting a bigger price to back them and will therefore search for more value elsewhere.

For that value we need look no further than Kohli. His numbers in ODIs since the start of 2018 are absolutely staggering – 16 innings, 1,309 runs at an average of 130.90 including three fifties and seven centuries – and with one final game on this tour and one more trophy there for the taking we certainly cannot question his hunger or motivation.

Kohli has top-scored in four of his past eight ODIs and with the series on the line I fancy he will do so again here.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Virat Kohli Top India Batsman at 3.00 or bigger for 1 unit.

Tuesday, January 15th, 2:20pm AEDT, Adelaide Oval

After stunning India in the first ODI in Sydney on Saturday, Australia will look to go one better and claim a shock series win over the visitors by winning the second ODI at Adelaide on Tuesday.

Australia

Having won the toss and elected to bat the Aussies made a relatively sluggish start, grinding to 2/41 in the tenth over. However a 92-run partnership between the recalled Usman Khawaja (59 off 81 balls) and Shaun Marsh (54 off 70 balls) gave them some momentum and a platform from which to launch.

Peter Handscomb, also brought back into the side, was the first to move up the gears, smashing 73 from 61 balls before all-rounder Marcus Stoinis joined the party with an unbeaten 47 from 43 deliveries to carry the Australians to a noteworthy 5/288 from their 50 overs.

West Australian opening pair Jason Behrendorff and Jhye Richardson did the early damage with the ball, reducing India to an impoverished 3/4 and although the next pair put on 137, the run rate required was always an issue for the visitors and they were eventually kept to 9/254.

On debut Behrendorff picked up a tidy 2/39 from ten overs, while Richardson claimed man of the match honours with an incredible 4/26 off his full allotment. Less damaging was Peter Siddle who finished with figures of 1/48 from his eight overs, leaving the door ajar for Billy Stanlake to come into the starting XI in Adelaide.

India

Although India were missing blue-chip quick Jasprit Bumrah they certainly had control of proceedings early on, although young left-arm quick Khaleel Ahmed did struggle to reign in the boundaries in his spell of 0/55 off eight overs.

Fellow seamer Mohammed Shami was much more frugal, only conceding 46 off his ten overs, while left-arm spin ace Ravindra Jadeja was arguably the pick of the Indian bowlers with 1/48 off ten overs.

The biggest concern for the away side in the field was the fact they conceded 93 in the last ten overs with both Khaleel and new-ball partner Bhuvneshwar Kumar (2/66 off ten overs) taxed.

Ultimately India never recovered from their cataclysmic start, although they were kept in the match via a brilliant knock from opener Rohit Sharma who stroked 133 off 129 balls including ten fours and six sixes.

Rohit was light on support aside from a steady 51 off 96 balls from veteran ‘keeper MS Dhoni, while Bhuvneshwar added a quick-fire 29 off 23 balls late in the innings. The Indians are restricted in regards to team changes with Hardik Pandya and Lokesh Rahul both suspended due to controversial comments made on a TV program although the uncapped Vijay Shankar has been drafted into the squad and could make his debut in Adelaide.

Adelaide Oval

Australia have a good recent record at the Adelaide Oval, winning their last five ODIs there, although India are also unbeaten in their last four matches there. The side batting first has won five of the past eight ODIs in Adelaide, while the hosts are set to sorely miss pace trio Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins who between them average 19.32 with the ball at this venue.

Key Stats

  • Australia have still won only two of their past ten ODIs.
  • India have still lost only two of their past 12 ODIs.
  • Australia haven’t won consecutive ODIs at home for two years.
  • India have lost only one of their past seven ODIs away from home.
  • Australia have won their last five ODIs at the Adelaide Oval.
  • However India are unbeaten in their last four ODIs at the Adelaide Oval.

The Verdict

The market has acknowledged Australia’s victory in Sydney and winded in the hosts, though India remain favourites for this clash.

Although the signs were promising, it’s hard to know just how much faith we can apportion to one, albeit polished, performance from this Australian side.

There were still concerns about their run rate through the middle of the innings against the spinners and while their back-up squadron of quicks performed admirably, there’s not the same confidence that they can do it all again as there would be if the first-choice triumvirate were here.

More than anything their record in one-day cricket of late has been absolutely abysmal so it’s fair to say that will take a lot more to win me over.

In comparison India have barely put a foot wrong in this format in recent times, winning in all conditions and retaining a confident set of players who all have a thorough understanding of their roles.

It’s not often that three of the top four will make single-figure scores, while there were certainly some auspicious signs from the likes of Rohit, Dhoni and Jadeja to suggest that this side is capable of bouncing back quickly.

With a number of squad members outside of the test arena and a World Cup on the horizon, there will still be plenty of motivation in the Indian camp and given their pedigree I simply cannot ignore the visitors at this price which is why I’ll backing India to square the series.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – India at 1.72 or bigger for 1 unit.

Saturday January 12th, 1:20am AEDT, SCG

After relinquishing the test series to India, Australia will be looking for some revenge in the first of three ODIs at the SCG on Saturday.

Australia

After losing their last five ODI series’ the Australian selectors have swung the axe, with several changes from the squad that was beaten 2-1 by South Africa back in November. Gone are batsmen Darcy Short, Travis Head, Chris Lynn and Ben McDermott with Usman Khawaja, Peter Handscomb and Mitchell Marsh all brought back into the side despite each experiencing underwhelming returns in the test series.

Spin-bowling all-rounder Ashton Agar has also been omitted after failing to get a game against the Proteas, replaced by veteran Nathan Lyon who will vie with Adam Zampa for the coveted slow-bowling spot in the XI.

First choice fast men Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins are all rested after a gruelling test series, while there is some confusion around the exclusion of Nathan Coulter-Nile with back soreness referenced by the selectors, although the player himself insists he is fit.

Into the side come Billy Stanlake, Jason Behrendorff and Jhye Richardson, while there is also a surprise recall for the indefatigable Peter Siddle.

That means that the only survivors from the South Africa series are Zampa, captain Aaron Finch, ‘keeper-batsman Alex Carey, the much-maligned Shaun Marsh and all-rounders Glenn Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis, all of whom will play a key part in this series.

India

The Indian side has no such issues with form and selection, retaining a settled squad after winning an incredible 11 of their past 12 ODI series’. Outside of the test squad, former skipper MS Dhoni has kept up rising star Rishabh Pant behind the stumps, while middle-order batsmen Kedar Jadhav and Dinesh Karthik retain their spots ahead of test vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane.

Opener Rohit Sharma has returned to Australia following the birth of his child and will be partnered by short-form specialist Shikhar Dhawan who performed well in the earlier T20I series here. Spinner Ravi Ashwin has failed to force his way into the squad, with the spin-bowling roles entrusted to Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal.

In the pace department Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami will be looking to build on their excellent long-form performances and will be joined by swing-king Bhuvneshwar Kumar and youngster Khaleel Ahmed, while fit-again all-rounder Hardik Pandya looms as an X-factor capable of changing the course of a match with both bat and ball.

As always captain Virat Kohli will play a significant role in proceedings and will be quietly motivated after what was a relatively disappointing test series by his own lofty standards.

Sydney Cricket Ground

Much like we saw in the recent test match, the SCG pitch is one that generally favours the batsmen in one-day cricket with the past five first innings totals all eclipsing 300.

Accordingly the side batting first has won six of the past nine ODIs in Sydney, while there is every indication that the hosts will continue to miss Steve Smith and David Warner who average 56.90 and 56.46 respectively in this format at their home ground.

Key Stats

  • Australia have lost their last five ODI series’.
  • India have won 11 of their past 12 ODI series’.
  • Australia have hit more sixes than their opponents in only four of their past 12 ODIs.
  • India’s opponents have hit more sixes than them in only three of their past ten ODIs.
  • The side batting first has won six of the past nine ODIs at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

The Verdict

Not surprisingly India have opened up clear favourites with punters steering clear of the out-of-sorts hosts.

You simply cannot be with Australia at the moment as they lurch from loss to loss and complete another overhaul of their struggling side. The bad news for the home side is that this is the format in which they have performed most poorly, even stretching back to when their blue-chip batsmen were available, while this time around they have chosen to rest their first-choice pace attack.

India have no such concerns, with their confidence high and record in ODIs simply astonishing. It then becomes a question of price as to whether they can be backed but given this is the first of their 50-over matches on this tour I’m a little hesitant at the skinny odds and believe there may be better value elsewhere.

One factor that cannot be overlooked in the shake-up of the Australian squad is that they have removed a lot of hitting power, via the likes of Lynn, Short and McDermott, with the replacements such as Khawaja and Handscomb more traditional stroke-makers.

Meanwhile India retain plenty of muscle in their batting unit with the top three of Rohit, Dhawan and Kohli clearing the pickets an incredible 63 times between them in ODIs last year. Based on that I’m happy to take the bigger price around for the visitors to clout the most maximums.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – India Most Sixes at 1.90 or bigger for 2 units.

Thursday Januray 3rd, 10:30am AEDT, SCG

India stand on the brink of a first ever series win in Australia with the hosts needing to win the fourth and final test at the SCG in order to square the series.

Australia

The Aussies fell behind early in Melbourne, conceding a whopping 7/443 declared in the first innings as India made the most of helpful batting conditions despite some tireless work from paceman Pat Cummins (3/72).

Unfortunately for the home side by the time they came to bat, conditions were not so friendly, however that did not excuse a paltry first innings score of just 151 with no batsman failing to pass 22.

Cummins did his best to reignite the Australian charge with a brilliant spell of 6/27 in India’s second innings which reduced the visitors to 5/44 before they eventually declared at 8/106, setting the Aussies an unlikely 399 for victory.

Once again the Australian batting line-up wilted under the pressure, slumping to 5/135 with a series of batsmen making starts but unable to go on to make a significant score. Cummins rounded out an outstanding test match with a career high score of 63 as the hosts were eventually bowled out for 261, handing India a decisive 2-1 series lead.

After scoring just 30 runs between them across the whole test, both Aaron Finch and Mitchell Marsh are under pressure to retain their spots with middle-order batsman Marnus Labuschagne drafted into the extended squad.

India

After winning a crucial toss, India made the most of their advantage at the MCG with their mammoth first innings total underpinned by another steely century to Cheteshwar Pujara (106).

Pujara was not alone though as debutant Mayank Agarwal set the tone at the top of the order with a bruising 76, captain Virat Kohli looked invincible at times during his knock of 82 and the talented Rohit Sharma found some welcome form with an unbeaten 63.

Having not enjoyed the best of luck throughout the series, paceman Jasprit Bumrah finally saw his fortune turn as he claimed a match-changing 6/33 in Australia’s first innings to take India’s position from of one strength to one of complete dominance.

Agarwal showed more promising signs with a fighting 42 in the second innings in amongst the onslaught from Cummins, before Bumrah wielding his magic in the final dig again, claiming 3/53 with support from left-arm orthodox Ravindra Jadeja (3/82) to ensure that India would retain the Border-Gavaskar trophy.

The only selection quandary for India surrounds the fitness of spinner Ravi Ashwin who could yet be brought back in for Jadeja, although opener Lokesh Rahul may consider himself unlucky to miss out after Hanuma Vihari struggled against the new ball in Melbourne.

Sydney Cricket Ground

The SCG has a recent history of producing high first innings totals with the past five averaging 9/422 so both captains will again be eager to win the toss and bat.

Although the Sydney wicket traditionally favours spinners, Australian offie Nathan Lyon will be hoping to improve his record here where he averages an unflattering 48.13 from seven tests with no five-wicket hauls.

Key Stats

  • Australia have won only one of their past eight tests.
  • In those past eight tests Australia have passed 350 just once.
  • India have won five of their past eight tests.
  • In those past eight tests India have passed 350 four times.
  • Australia have won only three of their past seven tests against India at the SCG.

The Verdict

After Australia’s capitulation at the MCG India are now favourites ahead of the home side, with the draw a slightly longer price than it was for the third test.

It’s hard to have much faith in the Australians at the moment, in particular their batting unit which is lacking of any world class or clearly in-form players, making it difficult for them to post the sort of total that places the opposition under pressure.

That places a lot of the impetus on their bowling unit, which has struggled at times to make in-roads when conditions are unhelpful, although their discipline and relentlessness has often kept the hosts in the contest.

The issue for Australia is that not only have the Indian bowling attack exhibited those same qualities, unlike their opposition they have been able to break through on regular occasions, even when the pitch has offered very little for them.

Moreover when conditions suits the batsmen, the visitors top-order has shown that they can cash in and wear down the bowlers, which ultimately gives them more opportunities to get ahead over five days.

The draw did trade very short in Melbourne and while the SCG pitch is not expected to deteriorate at the same rate, nor is it expected to be so flat for the first couple of days, so we can’t have the same confidence that either side, particularly Australia, will rack up the sort of sizeable score that gets the draw onside.

Although the toss will be crucial the key to this match will be the conditions which are far more likely to resemble Melbourne or Adelaide than Perth. That hands India a decisive advantage as there will be periods throughout the match where the pitch will offer little for the bowlers and reward batsmen who can show patience and obstinacy.

From what we have seen throughout the series, the Australian batsmen are not capable of toughing it out to produce a significant score, whilst the Indian bowlers have found ways to assert pressure even when the ball is doing very little in the air or off the pitch.

Based on all of that I’m backing the Indians to make history and clinch their first ever series win Down Under.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – India at 2.16 or bigger for 1 unit.

Wednesday December 26th, 11:00am AEDT, MCG

With the series locked at 1-1, Australia and India head to the Melbourne Cricket Ground for the traditional Boxing Day test.

Australia

Australia squared the series with an ultimately comfortable 146-run victory in Perth, wrapping up proceedings early on day five. After finally winning a toss and electing to bat, the hosts got off to the best possible start with an opening stand of 112 between Marcus Harris (70) and Aaron Finch (50), before useful contributions from Shaun Marsh (45), Travis Head (58) and Tim Paine (38) pushed them to a decent total of 326.

Although plenty was spoken about the pace and bounce of the Perth pitch, it was off-spinner Nathan Lyon who secured a first innings lead for the Aussies with his 5/67 helping to knock India over for 283.

The home side appeared to take control of the match as a gritty 72 from Usman Khawaja took them to 4/192 in the third innings, although they then proceeded to lose their last six wickets for just 51, leaving the door slightly ajar for the visitors via a target of 287. However that proved to be more than enough as the Indians were rolled for just 140 with man of the match Lyon picking up another three wickets, along with Mitchell Starc (3/46).

Australia have retained the same 13-man squad for the remaining two tests in the series, however there is a strong chance that all-rounder Mitchell Marsh could be brought in for the out-of-sorts Peter Handscomb.


India

Once again India failed to produce consecutive performances away from home, although there were a number of individual highlights which will give them hope for Melbourne.

Ishant Sharma bowled with excellent pace and discipline in the first innings to finish with 4/41, while fellow quick Jasprit Bumrah was unlucky to only pick up 2/53 in a probing display. With the bat India’s uncompromising captain came to the fore with Virat Kohli stroking a superb 123 after coming in at 2/8 to keep the visitors in the game. Kohli was well supported by his deputy Ajinkya Rahane who compiled a patient 51.

In the third innings when the game appeared to be slipping out of India’s grasp it was fast bowler Mohammed Shami who took control, running through Australia’s middle and lower order to finish with career-best figures of 6/56, while once again Bumrah built plenty of pressure as he claimed 3/39. There wasn’t anything too noteworthy about India’s performance with the bat in the second innings as no batsman passed 30 and what will be of particular concern is the way their tail wilted, with the final four wickets taken for just 21 in what is a continuation of a worrying trend.

Changes seem certain for the MCG as while young opener Prithvi Shaw has been ruled out for the series, all-rounder Hardik Pandya is fit again after a back injury and Ravi Ashwin is expected back after missing the second test through an abdominal strain. Even if Ashwin doesn’t recover in time, the visitors are likely to call on Ravindra Jadeja to provide another slow-bowling option and add extra steel to the lower order.


Melbourne Cricket Ground

Last summer the MCG produced the lowlight of the Ashes with the game petering out to a drab draw on a pitch that didn’t offer much to either the batsmen or bowlers. Although there are reports that the drop-in pitch in Melbourne will be upgraded that will not happen in time for this test and two of the three Sheffield Shield matches played at the MCG have also finished in stalemates.


Key Stats

*Australia have lost only one of their past eight test series’ at home.

*There have been five draws in Australia’s last six series’ at home.

*India have drawn two of their past four matches in Australia.

*India have drawn three of their past eight matches against Australia.

*Six of the past eight Sheffield Shield matches at the Melbourne Cricket Ground have finished in a draw.


The Verdict

Australia have shortened following their win at Perth Stadium, marked as favourites ahead of India with the draw again the biggest priced option by some margin.

The most encouraging aspect for the Aussies was that five of their top six made runs in Perth and while none kicked on to a significant score, it shows that if they put it all together there is the potential for them to prosper on the generally favourable MCG surface. Meanwhile their bowling attack refuses to let up, although there may be some concern that they are leaning too heavily on Lyon with the quicks seemingly not getting quite as much out of the pitch as their Indian counterparts did.

There are reasons to be optimistic about India’s chances here too with Kohli’s hunger unlikely to abate after his masterful ton in the second test, while fast-bowlers Shami, Bumrah and Ishant all showed that they can trouble the Australian batsmen. Moreover the visitors made a huge blunder by not replacing the injured Ashwin with Jadeja and the inclusion of either, or even both if Pandya is considered, will tighten up India’s vulnerable tail in addition to providing a high-quality spin option on the benign MCG pitch.

The draw shapes as an interesting option here as while both batting units have shown plenty of fallibility, there was notable improvement from both sides on what was a distinctly more difficult pitch in Perth compared to Adelaide. Furthermore the MCG wicket has been shown to be one that is difficult to generate any pace, bounce or spin from, while at the same time batsmen have struggled to score quickly and take the game away.

With last summer’s test and six of the past eight Sheffield Shield games in Melbourne failing to produce a result I feel that the draw may well trade short here so my first move will be to back the draw although giving the failings of both sides with the bat thus far I will be looking to trade out and secure a profit.

Betting Strategy

 BACK-to-LAY the Draw at 5.80 or better for 1 unit (trade out at 3.75 or better).

Friday December 14th, 1:20pm AEDT, Optus Stadium

After going down in a pulsating finish to the series opener, Australia will be looking to bounce back with victory over India in the second test at Optus Stadium, beginning on Friday.

Australia

The hosts actually got off to a perfect start in Adelaide, reducing India to 6/127 after being asked to field first, however a late-innings fightback from the visitors saw them reach a competitive 250 with new ball partners Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood snaring three wickets apiece.

The Aussies replicated their opponents’ struggles with the bat on a slowish pitch, reaching an identical 6/127 before Travis Head (72) led a similar recovery that saw them fall 15 runs short of India’s first innings total.

However it was at this point that the game appeared to drift away from the home side with the Indians cruising to 3/234 before prolific off-spinner Nathan Lyon ran through their middle and lower order, claiming 6/122 off 42 overs, with India bowled out for 307, leaving the Australians an unlikely 323 for victory.

The chase started with a series of Australian batsmen getting starts but failing to go on with it, leaving them at 4/104 at stumps on day four. A classy 60 from Shaun Marsh in conjunction with some brave tail-end efforts from Pat Cummins (28), Mitchell Starc (28) and Nathan Lyon (38 not out) dragged the Aussies to within 31 runs of the target before they succumbed on an engaging final day.

Captain Tim Paine who also made a fighting 41 is expected to shake off a blow to the finger he copped in Adelaide so there shouldn’t be any changes to the Australian XI although plenty of their batsmen will be under pressure to deliver some runs.


India

For India it was a mix of elation and relief as they secured their first ever win in the opening match of a test series in Australia. Man of the match Cheteshwar Pujara played a defining knock in the first innings, with his patient 123 off 246 balls saving the visitors from a paltry first innings score.

Equally notable was the effort of their bowling attack to strangle the Australian batting unit, with particular highlights coming from awkward seamer Jasprit Bumrah (3/47) and experienced spinner Ravi Ashwin (3/57) who made the most of appreciable turn early in the test match.

Pujara made another vital contribution in India’s second innings, top-scoring with 71, although this time he had support with an elegant 70 to vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane as well as a punchy 44 from opener Lokesh Rahul.

Captain Virat Kohli will be concerned that his side lost their final four wickets for just four runs and did not set Australia a more formidable total. His concern would only have grown deep into the second session on day five as Australia’s tail crept closer to a famous victory.

Fast-bowlers Bumrah (3/68) and Mohammed Shami (3/65) kept them ahead of the game, before Ashwin claimed the final scalp to finish with 3/92 off 52.5 overs after earlier struggling to make the sort of impact expected of him on a final day Adelaide pitch.

India are also likely to carry in the same XI to Perth with young opener Prithvi Shaw still struggling with an ankle injury, while Rohit Sharma is expected to hold off Hanuma Vihari in the number six spot.


Optus Stadium

Very little international cricket has been played at Perth Stadium with two just low-scoring ODIs in which Australia were bowled out for meagre totals of 247 and 152. The best guide may be the Sheffield Shield match played here between Western Australia and Victoria in October where the home side were knocked over for 208 and 251 either side of the Bushrangers racking up 504.

The pitch is expected to favour Australia with more pace and bounce. If there is any seam movement, I would expect their batsmen’s struggles to continue.


Key Stats

*Australia have lost consecutive tests at home only once in the past seven years.

*In their past six tests, Australia’s average score in their first innings of the match is 217.

*Between them, Australia’s four frontline bowlers have taken 115 wickets in tests this year.

*India haven’t won consecutive tests outside of Asia since 2006.

*In their past six away tests, India’s average score in their first innings of the match is 254.

*Between them, India’s four frontline bowlers have averaged 24.87 in tests this year.


The Verdict

Once again there is very little separating the sides with Australia favoured by the barest of margins at this stage ahead of India, with the draw finding very few backers in the market.

Although they ultimately went down, it was hard not to best impressed by the grit and determination shown by the Aussies on the final day in Adelaide and the fact they got so close suggests there is still plenty of belief in their camp.

There is still a major quandary surrounding their batting and whether they can stitch together enough runs to be competitive at this level. The pitch at Perth is expected to favour their bowling attack, however if that is the case it is difficult not to see it further hindering their misfiring batting unit.

There were plenty of promising signs for India, highlighted by the obdurate efforts of Pujara as well as some potential from the likes of Rahane and Rahul, while you’d think it’s only a matter of time before Kohli finds a way to score some significant runs.

Moreover their bowling attack was relentlessly accurate, troubling plenty of the Australian batsmen when they appeared to be set. However the one thing putting me off backing the visitors outright is the mystery surrounding what sort of pitch we will get at Perth Stadium and a long history of failing to put together consecutive performances in this country.

Until we see any signs of both teams displaying application and dominance with the bat it’s difficult to show any interest in the draw. It’s quite instructive that although runs rates were relatively sedate across the entire first test, the draw never really came into play and as such I’ll be leaving it well alone here.

So this looms as another match-up of high-quality bowling against questionable batting, although where we may be able to exploit this is at the toss where the winner of the coin-flip is expected to bat.

Batting first is no doubt an advantage, but as we have seen not just at Adelaide but throughout 2018, neither team has been able to consistently post the sort of total that gets them ahead of the game.

We will wait for the team who wins the toss and bat to shorten and then oppose them in the expectation that a below-par score will see their price drift, before backing them to lock in profit.

Betting Strategy

 LAY to BACK – First batting team at 2.30 or better for 2 units (trade out at 3.25 or better).

Thursday December 6th, 11:00am AEDT, Adelaide Oval

Australia

Australia will be looking to maintain their stranglehold over India in home conditions, with the visitors having never won a test series Down Under. However they face a huge challenge to maintain the status quo, especially as they are without star batsmen Steve Smith and David Warner who are still serving a suspension for the ball-tampering fiasco.

As a result the Aussies will lean heavily on the fit-again Usman Khawaja and inconsistent Shaun Marsh, whilst hoping that the likes of Aaron Finch and Travis Head kick on after some promising returns against Pakistan in the UAE.

With all-rounder Mitchell Marsh set to also retain his spot in the middle-order there appears to be a battle for the final place in the top six between uncapped opener Marcus Harris and the recalled Peter Handscomb, however Queenslander Marnus Labuschagne has been omitted.

The bowling attack is far more settled with pace triumvirate Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins back together again for another home summer, ably complemented by off-spinner Nathan Lyon.

There will also be plenty of eyes on captain Tim Paine who leads the side into a new era of unprecedented focus on the team’s conduct on the field, following the events in Cape Town eight months ago.

India

India come into the series as the number one ranked side in the ICC rankings and will be hoping they can add a series win in Australia to a long list of recent scalps. Captain Virat Kohli undoubtedly holds the key, although he will need help from his established middle-order colleagues Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane.

Lokesh Rahul seems set to take one opening position and he was to be joined by teenage prodigy Prithvi Shaw, however an ankle injury suffered in the warm-up game against a Cricket Australia XI may have opened the door for Murali Vijay who was dropped during India’s tour of England.

Star all-rounder Hardik Pandya is already sidelined with a back compliant, leaving Hanuma Vihari and Rohit Sharma to jostle for the number six position, while ‘keeper-batsman Rishabh Pant will be hoping he can provide the X-factor after an encouraging start to his test career.

If the visitors are to claim the series, they’ll need their much-improved bowling attack to fire with quicks Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav all keen to prove their wares in these conditions, along with seasoned spinner Ravi Ashwin who has struggled on previous tours to Australia.

Adelaide Oval

Although Australia traditionally begin their summer at the Gabba, they shouldn’t feel too uncomfortable about starting at the Adelaide Oval where they have lost only once in their last 14 outings.

Both captains will no doubt be keen to bat first, with the side batting second winning only two of the past seven tests at Adelaide, although it should be noted that unlike the last three tests here, this will not be day/night fixture.

Key Stats

*Australia have lost four of their past five tests, drawing the other one.

*However Australia are undefeated in their last nine tests at home.

*Australia have lost only one of their last 14 tests at the Adelaide Oval.

*India have won 11 of their past 13 test series’.

*However India have lost their last two series’ away from home and have never won a test series in Australia.

*Virat Kohli has top-scored in eight of his past 16 test innings’.

The Verdict

Very little separates the sides with Australia narrow favourites over India, leaving the draw a distant third option.

The Aussies come into this series with plenty of question marks, particularly over their batting sans Smith and Warner and with a few recent struggles on foreign shores.

However they retain an excellent bowling attack which is perfectly suited to the conditions and their record on home soil is so imposing that I don’t wish to oppose them straight up.

However nor do I want to take on India, chiefly because they have a batting unit that is capable of thwarting the highly-regarded Australian attack but also because their brigade of pace bowlers has made giant strides in recent times, especially away from the sub-continent.

Nevertheless a few slip-ups away to England and South Africa has me remaining wary over their chances, so I’ll also be letting their price go through to the ‘keeper.

That leaves the draw as our last option, however it is not a particularly palatable one with the Australian batsmen having shown they are prone to collapse, while their counterparts are still largely unproven in this country.

Furthermore both sides possess potent bowling attacks, so for now I’ll be leaving the match odds to one side and exploring elsewhere for some value.

That value appears to lie with the indomitable Indian captain. Since the start of 2017 Kohli has plundered 2,122 runs at an incredible average of 60.53.

Moreover he has had particular success in recent away series’ to England and South Africa, topping the run-scoring charts for India in both series’ by some distance. Having top-scored in eight of his past 16 innings’ at test level, I’m backing the Indian skipper to do so again here.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Virat Kohli Top India 1st Inns Bat at 3.00 or better for 1 unit.

Sunday November 25th, 6:50pm AEDT, SCG

Match Overview

After a washout at the MCG, Australia and India travel to Sydney for the third and final T20I on Sunday night.

In Game Two, Australia were once again sent into bat, however this time they failed to fire, scrambling to 7/132 after 19 overs before the rain arrived. They made another poor start in the opening overs, reduced to 3/35 inside the powerplay before a rescue mission was performed by the inexperienced Ben McDermott (32 not out off 30 balls) alongside Nathan Coulter-Nile (18 off 9 balls) who came into the side as a late replacement for Billy Stanlake.

Should Stanlake shake off an ankle injury he sustained in the warm-up it seems likely that Coulter-Nile will still be retained after also contributing some vital runs with the bat in the ODIs against South Africa.

India’s bowlers were excellent at the MCG with left-arm quick Khaleel Ahmed (2/39 off four overs) the only visitor to exceed in excess of seven runs an over. Kuldeep Yadav (1/23 off four overs) and Krunal Pandya (1/26 off four overs) both had the hosts in a spin, while Jaspir Bumrah picked up 1/20 off his four overs, using impressive variations of pace and length.

After a narrow loss at the Gabba, then being cruelled by the rain at the MCG, I fancy the Indians will finally secure their first win over Australia in this tour to square the series.

Key Stats

*Australia have won only two of their past nine completed T20Is against India.

*India haven’t lost a T20I series since July 2017.

*When bowling first India have conceded 160 or more in only three of their past 10 T20Is.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – India at 1.75 or better for 1 unit.

Friday November 23rd, 6:50pm AEDT, MCG

Match Overview

Having claimed a narrow 4-run win in Brisbane on Wednesday, Australia will be looking to secure the series with another victory against India in the second T20I at the MCG on Friday night.

After losing the toss and being sent into bat, Australia made a relatively sedate start with only 42 from the first seven overs before the explosive trio of Chris Lynn (37 off 20 balls), Glenn Maxwell (46 off 24 balls) and Marcus Stoinis (33 off 19 balls) got to work, powering the hosts to 4/158 from 17 overs in a rain-reduced match. A superb spell from recalled leg-spinner Adam Zampa (2/22 off four overs) gave the Aussies the ascendency, before Stoinis (2/27 off three overs) closed the match out by successfully defending 13 in the last over. Of more concern to the home side will be the profligate returns of Jason Behrendorff and Andrew Tye who combined for 2/90 off just seven overs, opening the door for state teammate Nathan Coulter-Nile to come into the side.

Wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav was the star for India with the ball, claiming 2/24 off four overs, however fellow tweaker Krunal Pandya (0/55 off four overs) and rookie paceman Khaleel Ahmed (1/42 off three overs) were both powerless to stop Australia’s middle-order surge. The visitors’ chase was underpinned by opener Shikhar Dhawan who struck a brutal 76 off 42 balls, however with the exception of Dinesh Karthik (30 off 13 balls) he lacked the requisite support to get the Indians over the line. Whilst it was Dhawan who dominated at the Gabba, look for his opening partner Rohit Sharma to make a mark in Melbourne.

Key Stats

Australia have won five of their past six T20Is at home.

India have won eight of their past ten T20Is away from home.

Rohit Sharma has top-scored in five of his past 11 T20Is.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Rohit Sharma Top India Batsman at 3.75 or better for 1 unit.

Wednesday November 21st, 6:50pm AEDT, The Gabba

Match Overview

India’s tour of Australia commences on Wednesday night with the first of three T20 Internationals at the Gabba between the highly-rated visitors and misfiring hosts.

Australia’s recent run of outs continued on Saturday night when they went down to South Africa in a one-off T20 at Gold Coast’s Metricon Stadium. In a rain-affected affair the Aussies won the toss and sent the Proteas into bat.

However their bowlers struggled for control with Glenn Maxwell (1/14 off two overs) the only to concede less than nine runs an over as the South African’s racked up an impressive 6/108 in 10 overs. Maxwell was also the lone shining light with an explosive 38 off 23 balls as the home side fell 21 runs short to register yet another loss.

While India’s feats in test and ODI cricket are well documented, their recent results in the shortest format of the game have arguably been most impressive, winning their past seven T20I series’. That success has been driven by the top-order feats of Shikhar Dhawan and vice-captain Rohit Sharma who between them have combined for over 1000 runs in T20Is this year.

The ball wrist-spinners Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav have left their opponents in a spin, averaging just 15.74 at an economy rate of 7.40 in 2018. Although they are first-up here, it’s hard to ignore the claims of the Indians who appear to have their hosts covered in all facets of the game.

Key Stats

Australia have lost their last four T20s.

India have won their last seven T20 series’.

India have won eight of their last nine T20s away from home.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – India at $1.80 or better for 1 unit.

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