India vs Australia: Test, ODI and T20 Previews

It’s India vs Australia this Summer for a full schedule of Test, ODI and T20 matches across the next few months.

Our expert cricket analyst, who has been betting and winning on cricket for years, will provide his pre-match preview, stats and best bets for every single game of India’s tour of Australia.

If you’re looking for Cricket Trading Tips, pro punter Matt Barker will be providing his thoughts on when to back and lay for selected matches here.

Check out the Betfair Hub for all the previews on this summer of cricket. For value odds, head to the Betfair Exchange.


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Brave, battered but brilliant – after a heroic draw at the SCG, India remain in the hunt to retain the Border-Gavaskar trophy if they are able to avoid defeat against Australia at the fourth test at the Gabba, starting on Friday.

Australia

Despite controlling the third test for large periods, the Aussies now find themselves in a position where they need to win if they are to lift the trophy. Having won an important toss and elected to bat first, debutant Will Pucovski showed some nice touches, though rode his luck in compiling a tidy 62 at the top of the order. The bulk of the heavy lifting was done by regular pair Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith whose 100-run partnership had the hosts in an incredibly strong position at 2/206.

However, when Labuschagne departed for 91, Smith struggled to find anyone who would stay with him at the other end as the Australians collapsed to be bowled out for just 338 with the former captain last man out for a brilliant 131. India then also found themselves travelling along comfortably with the bat at 1/85, but another crucial spell from the indefatigable Pat Cummins (4/29) coupled with some excellent fielding which resulted in three run outs, saw the visitors dismissed for 244.

After a couple of early wickets it was then left to Labuschagne (73) and Smith (81) to pick up where they left off from the first innings with both looking increasingly comfortable at the crease, before a late salvo from promising all-rounder Cameron Green (84) allowed Australia to declare at 6/312, setting India 407 for victory or four sessions to survive.

Having picked up two wickets late on day four and then another early on day five to leave the Indians reeling at 3/102, the result seemed a forgone conclusion, but the home side could only manage a further two wickets for the rest of the day as stoic betting and some clumsy fielding combined to see the match finish in the most unlikely of draws. A shoulder injury in the field to Pucovski has put the youngster in doubt with Marcus Harris most likely to be drafted in, however no other changes are expected for the Aussies.

India

There’s no doubting that this was one of the more remarkable results in India’s rich history, with the gusty draw coming despite the loss of several players prior to and during the match. Already without Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma, spearhead Jasprit Bumrah (2/66) kept things under control for the visitors when Australia looked set for a mammoth first innings total.

However it was all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja who sparked the collapse, claiming 4/62 after being under-utilised on day one. In their first innings with the bat, inexperienced opener Shubman Gill (50) once again showed plenty of promise, while first drop Cheteshwar Pujara (50) was typically obdurate in recording his slowest-ever half-century in test cricket.

What would’ve proved frustrating for the Indians is that five of their top six made it to 20 but none could get further than 50 which led to them staring down a 94-run first innings deficit. That innings also claimed Jadeja who suffered a dislocated thumb and was unable to bowl in the second innings, leaving just the four bowlers to toil in the Sydney sun.

India’s attempt to save the match begun with a 71-run opening stand, between Gill (31) and Rohit Sharma who was dismissed for a frustrating 52. Pujara did what he did best in soaking up 205 balls for 71, however, the course of the match changed with the elevation of ‘keeper-batsman Rishabh Pant to number five who decided that attack was the best form of defensive as he smashed a stunning 97 off just 118 balls including three sixes.

Nevertheless, when Pant and Pujara were dismissed either side of the second new ball, things looked pretty hopeless until the most astonishing partnership between Hanuma Vihari (23 not out) and Ravi Ashwin (39 not out) who stayed at the crease for the remaining 42.4 overs and secured the extraordinary result.

What made the stand even more impressive was that Vihari tore his hamstring early in his innings, so he will join a mounting list of absentees which also looks set to include Bumrah who suffered an abdominal strain, leaving India’s attack down to its bare bones.

The Gabba

It’s well known that Australia hasn’t lost a Test at the Gabba since 1988, but perhaps what isn’t mentioned as much is that the home side generally come away with the win with only two draws in the past 16 tests here. Expect Australia’s leading Pat Cummins to have a big say in how this match plays out as he averages a phenomenal 15.73 at this ground.

Key Stats

  • Australia has drawn only three of their past 20 tests.
  • India has drawn only two of their past 27 tests.
  • Australia has drawn only two of their past 28 test series’.
  • India has drawn only one of their past 30 test series’.
  • Australia hasn’t lost a Test at the Gabba since 1988.
  • There have been only two draws in the past 16 tests at the Gabba.

The Verdict

With all the injury concerns or the visitors, Australia has been installed as clear favourites with an Indian win considered far less likely than another draw.

Australia’s price is largely reflective of where it was going into the final session at the SCG, so can we expect another surprise? It shouldn’t be forgotten that they dominated the test for significant periods and Smith’s return to form could prove incredibly timely against an undermanned attack, however, I’m still finding it difficult to be with the hosts.

Although they will be presented with a different surface, the same bowling attack that couldn’t break through on the final day will no doubt carry some fatigue from that effort, but most concerningly the batting still looks frail outside of the premium pair.

That said it would still come as an enormous surprise to see India prevail here, missing key batsmen and running with almost a second-string attack. However at every turn during this series when it seemed like they were set to roll over, the away side have dug deep and found something and given the inclusion of match-winners such as Pujara, Pant, Rohit and Ashwin I don’t wish to lay them at such big odds.

So could we possibly get another draw? Well, there is some rain forecast, particularly at the back end of the test, but for me, there is plenty of value in taking on the stalemate. India’s stoic effort notwithstanding, we must remember that both sides have struggled with the bat for the best part, save for a handful of individual performances, with each bowling attack largely dominant.

Many may point out that the hosts’ bowlers will be weary and India’s have barely played a test between them, however, this also opens up the opportunity for a faster run rate than we have seen this series with the slow-going certainly contributing to the result at the SCG.

With draws and indeed drawn series’ like hen’s teeth for both of these sides, I’m willing to wager that the series will be decisively decided one way or another and that we won’t see another miraculous draw.

Betting Strategy

LAY — The Draw at 5.20 or bigger for 3 units.

After a spirited and startling victory at the MCG, India can retain the Border-Gavaksar trophy with another win over Australia in the third test at the SCG, starting on Thursday.

Australia

Australia once again failed to fire with the bat in Melbourne and this time they were made to pay by the Indians, going down by eight wickets in a disappointing display.

After winning the toss and getting first use of the friendly MCG surface, the Aussies soon found themselves in trouble at 3/38, before a brief respite courtesy of an 86-run partnership between Marnus Labuschagne (48) and Travis Head (38). However, after both batsmen were dismissed within 10 runs of each other, the rest of the innings fell away and the hosts were dismissed for 195 with some late hitting from Nathan Lyon who spanked 20 off just 17 balls.

Although Mitchell Starc (3/78) once again claimed a wicket in the first over of India’s innings, the visitors showed more discipline and application with the bat, eventually bowled out for 326 with Lyon (3/72 off 27.1 overs) also picking up three wickets. A determined knock from makeshift opener Matthew Wade (40) looked to give the Australians a foothold in the second innings, but he was struggling to find a partner as the home side languished at 6/99.

Prodigious all-rounder Cameron Green then did his best to drag Australia back in the game with a determined 45, but his dismissal quickly saw the rest of the tail follow and they were bowled out for an even 200, setting India a paltry target of 70 which they ran down comfortably despite a scalp each to Starc (1/20 off four overs) and Pat Cummins (1/22 off five overs).

Following the unexpected defeat, opener Joe Burns has paid the price for a poor run of form with David Warner and Will Pucovski both drafted back into the squad. There are still significant doubts over Warner’s fitness but he appears likely to play, while Pucovski’s potential inclusion could spell trouble for either Head or Wade.

India

This was a famous win for India, coming after they were rolled for just 36 at the Adelaide Oval and then having to deal with the absences of captain Virat Kohli and key seamer Mohammed Shami. But their bowling attack didn’t miss a beat, led by spearhead Jasprit Bumrah who captured 4/56 in Australia’s first innings, while Ravi Ashwin continued his excellent tour with 3/35.

However, the vital component for the away side was their batting after the demolition in the first test and the rear-guard started with debutant Shubman Gill who showed you can be positive without being reckless in these conditions as he struck eight fours in his knock of 45 to get India on the front foot. Undoubtedly the star of the show, however, was stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane whose 112 carried extra significance after he had been at fault for Kohli’s run out at a critical point in Adelaide.

Rahane received vital support from recalled all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja who reigned in his usual aggressive approach with a patient 57 off 159 balls which proved imperative in India gaining a significant first-innings lead. Then with some runs to play with, the Indian bowling attack was once again sublime, this time led by another debutant in Mohammed Siraj whose performance in taking 3/37 was even more impressive given that the visitors lost Umesh Yadav (1/5) to a calf injury after he had bowled just 3.3 overs.

Bumrah was again excellent with 2/54, while spinners Jadeja (2/28) and Ravi Ashwin (2/71) both took wickets at key moments. Despite what transpired in the previous test, the small target for India proved a formality, though not before Mayank Agarwal (5) perished for his third single-figure score in four knocks and with Rohit Sharma now available, he could find himself out of the side. Otherwise, there should be only one forced change with Yadav’s calf complaint opening the door for Navdeep Saini to make his first Test appearance.

Sydney Cricket Ground

Much like the MCG, the Sydney Cricket Ground traditionally favours the batsmen with three draws from the past six tests there, two involving India. Admittedly the weather has often played a key role in those stalemates and once again we can expect the rain to intervene at different stages, however, the forecast is not as foreboding as it was looking earlier in the week.

Key Stats

  • Australia have won only four of their past 11 Test series.
  • India have won five of their past seven Test series.
  • India have now won eight of their past 11 Tests.
  • Tim Paine is the only Australian batsman in their squad to have scored a half-century in this series and average more than 33.00.
  • Australia have won only three of their past six Tests at the SCG.
  • India are unbeaten in their last two Tests at the SCG.

The Verdict

Australia is still odds-on favourites to take a series lead with the perceived gap between an Indian victory and a draw fairly tight, mostly owing to the weather forecast.

It’s hard to have any faith in Australia after they were thoroughly outplayed by the Indians in Melbourne. The possible return of Warner is a significant boost, though there are still serious questions over his fitness and the need to rush him back tells a story in itself.

They do maintain an excellent bowling attack, though it was largely thwarted at the MCG and the way in which their batsmen could not only fail to get a decent score, but also struggle to take a stranglehold on the run rate means that I’ll be steering well clear of the hosts.

That slow scoring may get one interested in the draw, especially with some weather about and at a venue where we have seen results far from guaranteed. However, we cannot forget that this is a series in which ball has dominated bat, even on the friendliest of surfaces so while we may want to keep it onside, I simply cannot be with the draw at the price.

That leaves an Indian victory that would secure the Border-Gavaskar trophy and when you look at the odds it appears an attractive proposition. The visitors had much of the running in the opening test at Adelaide and whilst we certainly cannot overlook their calamitous second innings there, the way in which they fought back without Kohli and Shami at Melbourne was incredibly impressive.

In particular, the way they batted against Australia’s highly-rated attack suggests they can do it again on a similar surface, while there is no doubting the quality within their own attack which just keeps producing on this tour.

There are two ways I am thinking of approaching this test. Firstly, for me, India is clearly too big and so an outright back of them seems necessary. However, secondly, I do believe Australia is too short, given their batting woes and also potential weather that could shift the odds towards a draw, and so for me, there are plenty of ways in which to make a quick trade on the home side lengthening.

In the immortal words of the young girl from the Old El Paso commercial “why don’t we have both” and so we will, which unusually does see us take a relatively heavy position against Australia at home, but with Steve Smith looking out of sorts and the query on Warner’s injury it’s hard to see where their runs come from.

Betting Strategy

BACK — India at $4.00 or bigger for 1 unit.

LAY to BACK – Australia at $1.75 or better for 1 unit (trade out at $2.25 or bigger).

After an astonishing conclusion to the series opener, Australia will be looking to take a firm grip of the Border-Gavaskar trophy with another victory over India in the traditional Boxing Day Test at the MCG.

Australia

It was a dramatic test match from the start in Adelaide as Mitchell Starc claimed a wicket from the second ball of the match before going to claim an impressive 4/53. That helped restrict India to a below-par first innings total of 244 but only after they lost 7/56 across the night session of day one and afternoon session of day two.

The collapse was sparked by a run out executed by Pat Cummins who also took 3/48, while Nathan Lyon was unlucky to finish with figures of 1/68 in what was an all-round disciplined bowling effort. However, from there, the hosts failed to grab the initiative with the bat as they were rolled for just 191 despite appearing to have the best of the conditions.

Marnus Labuschagne rode his luck to compile a patient 47, however, the Aussies were mostly in debt to their captain Tim Paine whose undefeated 73 helped to garner 80 from the last three wickets and ensure that the Aussies stayed in touch with the game. It was then that the match was turned on its head as the Indians were bundled out for their lowest ever Test score of just 36.

Cummins was again exceptional, taking 4/21, however, he was outshone by fellow quick Josh Hazlewood whose five overs produced three maidens and returned the absurd figures of 5/8. Requiring just 90 for a flabbergasting win, the embattled opening pair of Matthew Wade and Joe Burns took a more positive approach to the chase with Wade unlucky to be run out for 33, while Burns cleared the fine leg fence with the winning runs to finish on a confidence-boosting 51 not out as the home side secured a stunning eight-wicket win.

Wade and Burns seem likely to retain their spots at the top of the order with David Warner and Will Pucovski unlikely to be declared fit in time for Boxing Day, which also means that promising all-rounder Cameron Green will get another chance after looking the part but failing to impact the scorebook too heavily.

India

It’s hard to see how India come back from here after such a devastating defeat, especially with captain Virat Kohli departing to return to India for family reasons. Kohli and his side looked in complete control at 3/188 with the skipper typically imperious on 74 before his calamitous run out. That blunder was caused by vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane who was dismissed soon after for 42, while earlier in the day it was the obdurate Cheteshwar Pujara who weathered the storm of a testing Australian bowling display, before he became Lyon’s sole victim for 43 off 160 deliveries.

In the field, the surprise packet for the visitors was adroit off-spinner Ravi Ashwin who ran through Australia’s middle-order on the way to taking 4/55, while bustling seamer Umesh Yadav showed that he deserved his spot with 3/40 after surprisingly taking the new ball ahead of Mohammed Shami.

There’s not too much that can be said about India’s second innings effort with the bat, other than that they came across a rampant and highly-skilled bowling attack at its very best. Nevertheless, there will be significant concerns over opener Prithvi Shaw (0 and 4) whose gap between bad and pad was exposed in both knocks, while question marks will also be asked over ‘keeper-batsman Wriddhiman Saha (9 and 4) who controversially kept out the aspiring Rishabh Pant.

There was injury added to insult at the completion of the Indians’ disastrous batting with Shami retiring hurt after suffering a suspected fractured arm that is expected to keep him out of the remainder of the series.

Either Navdeep Saini or Mohammed Siraj seem likely to make their debuts in place of Shami, while Shaw could be replaced at the top of the order by the classy Shubman Gill. That would allow Lokesh Rahul to slot into the middle-order to cover Kohli’s departure, with Saha swapping out for Pant down at number seven another possibility.

Melbourne Cricket Ground

The MCG pitch has come under some recent criticism for being too docile, though there have been only two draws in the last 22 tests here. Regardless, it is still an excellent surface for batsmen with five of the past six first innings scores surpassing 400. Former skipper Steve Smith boasts an imposing record at the ground with four centuries in seven tests and an average of 113.50.

Key Stats

  • Australia have won their last eight tests at home.
  • India haven’t lost four consecutive away tests since 2014.
  • Five of the past six first innings scores at the MCG have been over 400.
  • There have been only two draws in the last 22 tests at the MCG.
  • Steve Smith averages 113.50 at the MCG.
  • Against India Steve Smith averages 79.50 and has scored centuries in seven of his past nine tests against them.

The Verdict

Australia have shortened appropriately following India’s capitulation at the Adelaide Oval with the draw a similar price to what it was for the series opener.

After what we saw in Adelaide you’d only really want to be with Australia but I’m not sure you can be at the price. The batting was certainly unconvincing and still likely to be missing one of their big guns in Warner and while their attack was peerless they are unlikely to extract quite the same amount of bounce and movement this time around.

Though nor would you want to be anywhere near the visitors after their inconceivable disintegration with a fightback made all the more unlikely by the absence of their talisman Kohli as well as a key bowler in Shami.

India seem set to make a host of changes and with some more solidarity at the top of the order and spark from the ‘keeper-batsman it’s not completely beyond them to turn things around but I’d be wanting much larger odds before I was willing to invest in that materialising.

It’s hard to fathom that the draw traded relatively short late on day one before the match descended into a three-day finish and we are presented with a typically flatter surface here, but following one side’s lowest-ever test score and the other also flattering to deceive with the bat it would seem more than counter-intuitive to be with the stalemate at anything less than double-figures and even then it would require some consideration.

So with match odds out of the picture let’s focus on someone who had a surprisingly quiet game at Adelaide – the number one test batsman according to the ICC Rankings Steve Smith. Smith was dismissed for 1 in the first innings and finished not out on the same score in the second, but he’s generally not out of the runs for long.

Last summer it was Labuschagne and Warner who stole the headlines but in the series against New Zealand Smith still averaged a reasonable 42.80, hardly slim pickings. Going back a bit further his record is nothing short of phenomenal – in his last 16 Test innings he averages a superb 68.67 and as mentioned he absolutely loves the MCG, averaging in triple figures at the ground.

Perhaps most pertinently Smith averages a whopping 79.50 against India with centuries in seven of his past nine tests against them and having scored runs in the limited overs series we know that form is no issue which is why I’ll be siding with the former skipper to top-score at the MCG.

Betting Strategy

BACK — Steve Smith Top Australia Batsman at $3.25 or bigger for 1 unit.

The Border-Gavaskar trophy is back on the line as Australia confront India in the first of a four-test series at the Adelaide Oval, beginning on Thursday.

Australia

The Aussies will be looking to reassert themselves at the top of the ICC rankings, having been joined in first place by neighbours New Zealand. However, the Indians will be no push-overs, having succeeded on these shores when they toured two years ago, albeit against a weakened Australian side.

The hosts ascended to the top of the ladder with a dominant home summer twelve months ago, sweeping aside Pakistan and New Zealand in a combined 5-0 whitewash, though arguably their more impressive work came a few months prior when they retained the Ashes in England in a series they really should’ve won.

Their prosperity has been built around a consistent and highly effective bowling attack with blue-chip quicks Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins complemented by the evergreen off-spin of Nathan Lyon. There is also plenty of depth in the attack with the likes of James Pattinson and Michael Neser waiting in the wings, while leg-spinner Mitchell Swepson has shown signs that he could one day take over from Lyon.

It’s no surprise that Australia’s success has also coincided with the returns of Steve Smith and, to a lesser extent, David Warner who bolster a batting line-up which also features breakout star Marnus Labuschagne and the promising Travis Head, however, there is certainly not the same depth to the batting line-up which has been showcased by a series of injuries leading up to this match.

A groin injury to Warner has opened up a vacancy at the top of the order which has been complicated by Joe Burns’ woeful form and a concussion suffered by rising star Will Pucovski which also ruled him out.

Marcus Harris has been drafted in and could earn a recall, while there is also the option of elevating Matthew Wade which would result in a debut for prodigious all-rounder Cameron Green who himself suffered a head knock in the Australia A warm-up fixture.

All of this will be playing on the mind of captain Tim Paine who will no doubt face questions over his place in the team if the home side fails to take out the series.

India

India’s most recent foray into Test cricket resulted in a 2-0 defeat at the hands of New Zealand, a result they will be keen to atone for despite the fact it occurred almost 10 months ago. Their major issue against the Black Caps was their batting as they failed to reach 250 in the four innings with no individual batsman averaging more than 25.50.

It was a far cry from the run-fest in this country 12 months prior where the immovable Cheteshwar Pujara amassed a mammoth 521 runs at an average of 74.42 earning him player of the series honours. However, it is above Pujara where India’s problems start with Rohit Sharma not available until the second half of the tour, leaving Mayank Agarwal and youngster Prithvi Shaw to retain their places at the top of the order.

While Rohit will arrive later, the big news is that India’s indomitable captain Virat Kohli will depart after this test match to attend the birth of his first child, meaning that the visitors will need to get plenty out of fellow middle-order players Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari and Hardik Pandya who dominated the white ball series played prior. There was no room for gifted ‘keeper-batsman Rishabh Pant, leaving the gloves in the possession of the more experienced Wriddhiman Saha.

The Indians’ bowling attack will again need to be at their best to succeed on Australian pitches and they will initially be without the seasoned Ishant Sharma who is also unavailable until later in the tour, placing the spotlight on regular new ball pair Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami, leaving fellow seamers Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Siraj and Navdeep Saini to fight over the final fast-bowling spot.

The away side also have a decision to make in regards to their spin bowler with familiar pair Ravi Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja likely to battle it out, though the wildcard is left-arm wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav who could benefit from the extra bounce provided down under.

No doubt it is a significant task for India but they will be happy to start on a slower pitch in Adelaide and it shouldn’t be forgotten that prior to their slip-up against the Kiwis, they had not been defeated in their previous six Test series.

Adelaide Oval

Although it is typically a batsman-friendly venue, the past seven tests at Adelaide have all produced a result, including India’s 31-run victory in 2018. Interestingly, the team batting first has declared their first innings in five out of those seven tests, including Australia’s monstrous 3/589 highlighted by the absent Warner’s unbeaten 335, which also came in a day-night Test.

Key Stats

  • Australia have won their last five tests.
  • India have lost only two of their past 11 tests.
  • Australia have scored over 400 in their last five first innings’ when batting first.
  • The team batting first has declared their first innings in five of the past seven tests at the Adelaide Oval, with an average first innings total of 7/475.
  • The last seven tests at the Adelaide Oval have all produced a result.
  • In 14 day/night tests there has never been a draw.

The Verdict

Despite question marks over their starting XI, Australia are odds-on favourites with India next in line and the draw a distant third option.

There is no doubt that Australia deserve their favouritism as the side has come a long way since India last prevailed here. Although Warner is missing, the return of Smith is key as he tends to save his very best for the biggest series, while the emergence of Labuschagne and, to a lesser extent, Head mean that the hosts are not entirely reliant on their former skipper.

The bowling attack has been together for some years now, though there is an argument that they have got smarter, as evidenced by the lengths employed in the successful Ashes defence. However, after a long break between tests and some serious queries over who will open the batting, I’m going to need to see something from the hosts before I can back them at this sort of price.

India will be looking to draw on their success here two years ago and indeed replicate an opening test win at the same venue. If Smith is primed for a big series then his adversary Kohli will be hugely motivated given that he is departing after this match, while the likes of Pujara and Rahane also now boast plenty of experience in these sorts of conditions. However, the loss of Ishant is perhaps an underrated one and after what their batting unit served up in New Zealand, albeit on much greener surfaces, we’re also going to pass over the visitors’ price.

That leaves the draw which is an increasingly unpopular option, particularly in day-night tests where we’ve had a run of 14 matches and no stalemates. But that’s not to say that the draw can’t trade shorter, particularly on the typically docile Adelaide surface which tends to only pose serious questions of the batsmen on days four and five.

Both bowling attacks may be high-class and granted there is some uncertainty at the top of the order for either side, but there’s no doubting the class available to each team with the bat including six of the top 13 run-scorers in test matches last year (Labuschagne, Smith, Agarwal, Head, Rahane and Kohli), while it’s worth remembering that even against Australia’s much-vaunted attack Pakistani tail-ender Yasir Shah scored a century on this ground 12 months ago.

It will take some gumption, particularly against the new ball, but I’m going to start by backing the draw, though will certainly be looking to trade out given the way that Adelaide typically plays and the fact that we are yet to see a day/night test fail to produce a result.

Betting Strategy

BACK to LAY — The Draw at $8.60 or bigger for 1 unit (trade out at $5.40 or better).

Match Overview

With the series wrapped up, India will be hoping to maintain their momentum coming into the test series with another win over Australia in the third and final T20I at the SCG on Tuesday.

Once again Australia failed to capitalise on a fast start in game two on Sunday, racing to 1/75 in the eighth over off the back of a blitzkrieg from stand-in skipper Matthew Wade (58 off 32 balls). Although the hosts slowed down in the middle overs, they were still able to find the boundary at the death and amassed an imposing 5/194 with Steve Smith contributing 46 off 38 balls.

A tight spell from young leg-spinner Mitchell Swepson (1/25 off four overs) looked to have the Aussies in the box seat, but some generous bowling at the back end from AJ Tye (1/47 off four overs) and debutant Daniel Sams (1/41 off 3.4 overs) allowed India to sneak home by six wickets and with two balls to spare.

There wasn’t a great deal for the visitors to be pleased about in the field, however, rookie left-arm quick Thangarasu Natarajan continued his excellent tour, claiming 2/20 off four overs amidst the onslaught.

An early assault from opener Shikhar Dhawan (52 off 36 balls) then gave the Indians a foothold in the chase, but it was the supreme finishing skills of the dynamic Hardik Pandya (42 not out off 22 balls) who was the match-winner, timing his run to perfection to seal the series. One feature of the series and particularly Sunday night’s game was how both sides targeted the powerplay so irrespective of who bats first I would expect to see plenty of runs scored in the first six overs.

Key Stats

  • Australia hasn’t lost three consecutive T20Is at home since February 2017.
  • Australia has scored 50 or more in the first six overs in eight of their past nine T20Is.
  • India has scored 50 or more in the first six overs in four of their past five T20Is.

Betting Strategy

BACK (WIN) — 1st Innings 6 Over Total 50 Runs or more at 1.75 or bigger for 2 units.

Match Overview

An injury-ravaged Australian side will be hoping to keep the series alive when they return to Sydney to take on India in the second T20I on Sunday night.

The Aussies went down by 11 runs in the series opener despite getting off to an excellent start in which they reduced the Indians to 6/115 after 17 overs, mostly due to the surprise impact of recalled all-rounder Moises Henriques who claimed 3/22 off four overs. However the hosts leaked 46 off the final three overs and then despite another positive start in the chase with skipper Aaron Finch (35 off 26 balls) leading them to 1/72 in the tenth over, they again fell away badly to finish on 7/150 after 20 overs with Darcy Short (34 off 38 balls) playing an ineffective knock at the top of the order.

A fresh concern for Australia is the injury suffered by Finch while he was batting that may see him ruled out of the second game, joining the likes of David Warner, Marcus Stoinis, Mitch Marsh, Ashton Agar and Pat Cummins on the sidelines.

After opener Lokesh Rahul (51 off 40 balls) did his best to keep the innings together amidst the regular loss of wickets, India were indebted to all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja who smacked a sparkling 44 not out off 23 balls despite suffering a hamstring injury then later controversially being substituted out under the concussion rule.

It was then Jadeja’s replacement Yuzvendra Chahal who had a profound impact with the ball, picking up 3/25 off four overs and man of the match honours as the Indians’ perfectly-executed plans stifled the Australian middle and lower-order. Jadeja has been ruled out of the rest of the T20I series but with Finch in serious doubt for the Australians and Jasprit Bumrah likely to return I see no reason why the away side can’t secure the series on Sunday.

Key Stats

  • Australia have lost both T20Is played against India at the SCG.
  • India are unbeaten in their last six T20I series.
  • Since the start of 2019 Aaron Finch, David Warner, Marcus Stoinis, Mitch Marsh and Ashton Agar have scored 56% of Australia’s runs in T20Is.

Betting Strategy

BACK (WIN) — India at $1.95+ for 1 unit

Match Overview

After the hosts claimed the ODI series 2-1, Australia and India will now turn their attention to the shortest form of the game when they clash in the first T20I at Manuka Oval on Friday night.

Like the ODI side, Australia’s last assignment in the T20 arena was away to England, however, they lost that series 2-1 despite a consistent showing from captain Aaron Finch who over the course of the three matches powered 125 runs at an average of 41.67 and strike-rate of 137.36.

The home side will again lean heavily on their skipper with the likes of David Warner, Marcus Stoinis, Mitch Marsh, Pat Cummins and Kane Richardson all unavailable for various reasons, while there is also some doubt over all-rounder Ashton Agar who appeared to suffer calf injury in the final ODI. Those absences could open the door for Matthew Wade to come in at the top of the order, while there could also be T20I debuts for Marnus Labuschagne, Cameron Green and Daniel Sams.

India are actually on an eight-match winning streak in T20 cricket and should come into the match with plenty of confidence following their pride-salvaging victory in the final ODI. They also have the added advantage of an arguably more settled side with Rohit Sharma the only major omission, while rookie pacemen Shardul Thakur and Thangarasu Natarajan will both be on a high after showing plenty of composure in the tight finish at this ground on Wednesday.

Crisp-hitting all-rounder Hardik Pandya is also in exceptional form, which has almost overshadowed the visitors’ indomitable captain Virat Kohli who comes in this match off the back of successive half-centuries, so with plenty of players in form, I’m leaning towards the visitors at the price.

Key Stats

  • Australia have won only two of their past five T20Is.
  • India have won their last eight T20Is.
  • Australia have won only four of their past 12 T20Is against India.

Betting Strategy

BACK (WIN) — India at $2.12+ for 1 unit

Having wrapped up the series during another run-fest at the SCG on Sunday, Australia will be looking for a clean sweep over India with victory in the third ODI at Manuka Oval on Wednesday.

Australia

There were plenty of similarities with regards to Australia’s performance in this match and the series opener as the hosts again won the toss and elected to bat, before proceeding to compile a sizeable opening partnership. This time Aaron Finch and David Warner put on 142 in 137 balls with the captain first to be dismissed for a punchy 60 off 69 balls, while Warner’s innings was cut short by a sharp piece of fielding, run out for 83 off 77 balls.

Again Steve Smith picked up the slack with a combative and aggressive approach, and just as he did on Friday, the prolific right-hander brought up his century off just 62 deliveries, plundering 14 fours and two sixes as he was dismissed two balls later for 104.

Smith’s dismissal brought Glenn Maxwell to the crease and he superseded his contribution from the first match with a maniacal 63 not out off only 29 balls. In fact, the only clear difference between the two innings was that Marnus Labuschagne (70 off 61 balls) also joined the party which helped the Aussies to an even greater total of 4/389.

The home side never really looked in any danger of failing to defend their significant score, though the Indians did score freely enough to reach 9/338 from their 50 overs. This time Pat Cummins was the steadiest of the quicks with 3/67 off ten overs, while veteran Moises Henriques showcased his all-round value with a relatively frugal 1/34 off seven overs.

Less impressive was spearhead Mitchell Starc who followed up a wayward performance in game one with nine wicketless overs that cost an alarming 82. Starc is one of many players who may be rested for the dead-rubber with Warner certain to be missing after suffering a groin injury in the field, while Cummins has also been given the rest of the white ball matches off.

India

The visitors will be less enamoured with the consistent correlation between matches, though it was no doubt aided by an unchanged line-up with young paceman Navdeep Saini (0/70 off seven overs) again targeted by the Australians, as was leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal (0/71 off nine overs).

India did attempt to alter their five bowler strategy with Mayank Agarwal tried for one over which cost ten, while Hardik Pandya made a reluctant return to the bowling crease, though he was relatively effective as he claimed 1/24 off four overs with the prize scalp of Smith. The Indian batsmen will be desperate for an opportunity to either bat first or chase a more achievable target as they once again acquitted themselves well against a high-class attack.

Captain Virat Kohli led the way with a scything 89 off 87 balls than had Indian fans dreaming of a miracle heist, while ‘keeper-batsman Lokesh Rahul cleared the ropes on five occasions during his knock 76 off just 66 balls. Otherwise, the rest of India’s top and middle-order made decent contributions of between 28 and 38 yet each perished under the weight of an ever-increasing run rate required.

Rotations seem more of a necessity than a luxury for the away side with Saini surely set to make way for either Shardul Thakur or potential debutant Thangarasu Natarajan, while Chahal’s continued generosity should result in a recall for fellow wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav.

There’s really been no issue with India’s batting so it seems unlikely they will shuffle the decks there, though with the T20I and test series ahead of them there’s no doubt this match bares more significance to them than a standard dead-rubber.

Manuka Oval

India will be hoping that a change in venue brings a change in fortunes, though they’ll be met with a similarly flat pitch with six of the past seven first innings totals topping 325 at Canberra with the last four over 345. The Indians have played here once before with centuries to Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan not enough to get them over the line in a 25-run loss suffered in 2016.

Key Stats

  • Australia have won their last four ODIs when batting first.
  • India have won eight of their past 12 ODIs when batting first.
  • The side batting first has won the past seven ODIs at Manuka Oval.
  • Six of the past seven first innings totals at Manuka Oval have been greater than 325.
  • Australia have won only two of their past six dead-rubbers.

The Verdict

Australia are much the same price as they were on Sunday with the confirmed loss of Warner and Cummins at the very least keeping their odds in check.

So can Australia maintain their dominance without two or more of their key players? At this point, it seems very difficult to oppose them with a number of their batsmen in stunning form and although Warner is certainly a loss it provides an opportunity, likely either for Matthew Wade or Darcy Short, to come in and make an impact.

However, what stops us from lumping on the Aussies is their underperforming bowling attack will be weakened even further by rotation and there’s undeniably a sizeable gap in class between their first-choice attack and those waiting on the fringes.

India’s bench bowlers should also find themselves firmly in the frame for selection, though whether they can improve on what’s been a tepid effort thus far certainly remains to be seen. Meanwhile, their batting has actually very impressive with successive 300+ scores, albeit in forlorn chases, with four of their batsmen averaging 44.00 or better, all at strike-rates in excess of 95.00.

The match odds don’t appeal given the uncertainty of team news, but what we can foresee is that the majority of changes will be in the bowling attacks and hence each batting line-up, save for Warner’s injury, should be relatively uninterrupted. We also know the conditions will again be far from bowler-friendly so we’re going to keep it simple and side with whichever team gets firs use of the beautiful Manuka strip.

Betting Strategy

BACK (WIN) — Whichever team bats first for 1 unit.

After a powerful performance in the series opener on Friday, Australia will be looking to wrap-up the series with another win over India in the second ODI at the SCG on Sunday.

Australia

Having won the toss and elected to bat the hosts wasted no time in asserting their dominance in the familiar conditions as openers Aaron Finch and David Warner combined for an opening stand of 156 off 167 balls which only ended when Warner was controversially caught behind for 69 off 76 deliveries.

However that only served to bring the imperious Steve Smith to the crease with the former and current captain sharing in a stand of 108 off just 73 balls to further grind the Indians into the ground. Finch top-scored with a commanding 114 off 124 balls, however arguably the greater impact was made by Smith who produced his most domineering performance in the ODI arena with a sparkling 105 off just 66 balls, spanking 11 fours and four sixes after getting an LBW verdict overturned by DRS when on just 15.

The cherry on top was provided by a classic Glenn Maxwell cameo, with his 45 off only 19 deliveries elevating the Aussies to a monumental total of 6/374. In the field metronomic paceman, Josh Hazlewood struck three early blows to India’s hopes, finishing with 3/55 from his ten overs, however it was Adam Zampa who held his nerve during a mid-innings counter-attack to claim 4/54 from his full allotment, including the wickets of the visitors’ two highest scorers as they were kept to 8/308 from their 50 overs.

Nevertheless, the diminutive leg-spinner was one of several Australians to drop a catch, with a number of blemishes in the field that the home side will be eager to eradicate. Alterations to the starting XI are unlikely, though it seems there will be one forced change with Marcus Stoinis suffering a side strain which paves the way for either debutant Cameron Green or veteran Moises Henriques to come in.

India

India has a number of concerns but they principally lie with their bowling attack which concurrently looked unlikely to take wickets and seemed incapable of stemming the flow of Australian runs. The pick of the bunch was undoubtedly Mohammed Shami who finished with 3/59 from ten overs and was the only bowler to concede less than a run a ball.

His new ball partner Jasprit Bumrah (1/73 off ten overs) struggled and now has the unflattering figures of 1/278 from his past five ODIs. However the biggest burdens were young seamer Navdeep Saini (1/83 off ten overs) and leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal (1/89 off ten overs) who could see themselves replaced by Shardul Thakur and Kuldeep Yadav respectively.

The other big issue for the away side is the lack of a sixth bowler with Hardik Pandya still seemingly unable to bowl and with no other all-rounders in the squad, the only solution would be to weaken the batting by shifting Pandya up to number five and playing an extra bowler. The talented 27-year-old certainly made a case for an elevation with a brutal 90 off 76 balls which threatened to drive India towards a famous chase, however his dismissal ended all hopes of an unlikely win.

Earlier the visitors got off to a frantic start, taking 53 off the first five overs, however they proceeded to lose 4/48 from their next eight overs which put them squarely on the back foot. An electric partnership of 128 off 126 balls between Pandya and consistent opener Shikhar Dhawan (74 off 86 balls) brought India back into the game, but ultimately their bowlers left them with too much to do and the chase fizzled out despite a couple of late blows from tail-ender Saini (29 not out off 35 balls).

Sydney Cricket Ground

Australia’s total on Friday was the third-highest seen in ODIs at the SCG with the other two coming during the 2015 World Cup where the powerplay rules were more favourable to batsmen. Relief may be on short supply for bowlers with the temperature forecast to hit 39, which highlights how important the battle between both spin attacks will be.

Key Stats

*Australia have now won four of their past five ODIs.

*India have lost their last four ODIs away from home.

*Australia have won 14 of their past 18 ODIs when batting first.

*Australia have won six of their past eight ODIs at the SCG.

*India have won only two of their past ten ODIs at the SCG.

The Verdict

Australia has come in a bit for their performance in the series opener with India drifting out following the 66-run margin.

The Aussies’ performance with the bat was one of their most complete in recent times with Finch and Warner’s steady start complemented by the explosiveness of Smith and the late flourish of Maxwell. Importantly there are other avenues for them to maintain their superiority with the likes of Marnus Labuschagne and Alex Carey capable of contributing more when given the chance.

Their performance with the ball may not have been as convincing but crucially Zampa continued his excellent form and unlike their opponents, there is no clear weakness in the seam attack, no shortage of stop-gap all-round options.

There were plenty of encouraging signs when it came to India’s batting, though a lack of composure once they got off to a flyer, even exhibited by captain Virat Kohli, speaks to a team still finding their feet and had it not been for an uncharacteristically sloppy performance in the field from the Australians the margin of victory would’ve likely been even greater.

However, the key issue is their bowling where they are lacking quality, form and depth. Young quick Saini looked most vulnerable but his most likely replacement Shardul Thakur has an ODI economy rate of 7.00, while alternate spin option Kuldeep Yadav is also low on confidence with aggregated figures of 5/333 from his past five ODIs.

In the first game, the market was very keen to be with Australia so if there are any signs of continued dominance I expect the prices to move very quickly and very firmly in their favour which is why I’m happy to take a chunk at starting price and then look to trade out in order to secure a nice green book.

Betting Strategy

BACK to LAY (WIN) — Australia at 1.60 or bigger for 2 units (trade out at 1.20 or better).

The international summer of cricket commences on Friday when Australia host India in the first of a three-match ODI series at the SCG.

Australia

Although cricket, particularly of the international variety, has been in short supply due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Aussies can take plenty of confidence from a 2-1 series win over world champions England back in September.

Across the three matches, leg-spinner Adam Zampa stood tall, claiming 10 wickets at an average of 14.20 and economy rate of 4.73, while with the bat, enigmatic all-rounder Glenn Maxwell played a key role in both victories, particularly the decider where his stunning knock of 108 off 90 balls, in conjunction with a break-through innings from ‘keeper-batsman Alex Carey (106 off 114 balls), dragged Australia back from the brink to secure a dramatic three-wicket victory.

As such there have been few changes to the squad that returned from the Old Dart victorious, with all-rounders Cameron Green and Moises Henriques drafted in to cover the injured Mitchell Marsh, while Zampa’s hot form has seen Nathan Lyon omitted alongside young firebrand Riley Meredith.

There was one late change to the playing group, with seamer Kane Richardson choosing to sit out due to the birth of his son which has resulted in a reprieve for white-ball specialist Andrew Tye. One player with plenty to prove will be David Warner who again struggled over in the UK, with just 36 runs in three knocks at a sedate strike-rate of 63.15. However, the opener boasts an imposing record in this format on home soil so will be hoping he can impose himself once more.

India

Unlike their opponents, India have not played any one-day cricket since the pandemic hit, with their last ODI series resulting in a 3-0 whitewash reverse away to New Zealand in February. Following that result, batsmen Prithvi Shaw and Kedhar Jadav have paid the price, with promising wicket-keeper Rishabh Pant also left out despite not featuring against the Kiwis.

Prolific opener Rohit Sharma will miss the white-ball leg of the tour in order to recover from a hamstring injury, however, that loss is somewhat offset by the inclusion of Shikhar Dhawan who missed the New Zealand series due to a shoulder complaint but will be raring to go after a strong showing for finalists Delhi in the recently completed IPL.

India’s premier T20 tournament also acted as the launchpad for deceptive spinner Varun Chakravarthy whose performances for Kolkata have put him in the frame for an international debut, possibly alongside fellow Knight Rider Shubman Gill who has forced his way back into the squad.

Canny paceman Bhuvneshwar Kumar has still not overcome a thigh injury, but there is plenty of experience in the bowling attack with Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Yuzvendra Chahal and Ravindra Jadeja all featuring, though it remains to be seen whether all-rounder Hardik Pandya can contribute with the ball, having not rolled the arm over in a competitive match since undergoing back surgery.

As always, India’s indomitable captain Virat Kohli looms as a key protagonist and while the Indians’ recent record in this format has been a bit scratchy, their captain’s has not, with six half-centuries in his past 11 ODI innings, averaging 58.10.

Sydney Cricket Ground

Typically the SCG is a high-scoring venue with five of the past seven first innings totals eclipsing 300. Those lofty first innings scores have generally proved tough to chase with the side batting first winning six of the past seven ODIs here. Curiously despite his phenomenal overall record, Kohli has struggled in Sydney, failing to pass 21 in five ODI innings at this ground.

Key Stats

  • Australia have won eight of their past 11 ODI series at home.
  • India have won only two of their past six ODIs.
  • Australia have won only one of their past four ODIs against India.
  • Shikhar Dhawan has top-scored in four of his past eight ODI innings.Shikhar Dhawan is averaging 88.40 in his last five ODIs against Australia

The Verdict

The home side are clear, if not overwhelming favourites, with the market waiting to see how the Indians perform on foreign soil.

This match is a difficult one to assess given the lack of international cricket being played recently, but Australia’s series win in England is certainly worth something and, if anything, proves that they can put it together off little preparation. The hosts also boast a relatively settled side that has enjoyed plenty of success on home soil so they are deserving of their favouritism but given all the unknowns, it would be a stretch to suggest that their price reflects any clear value.

Meanwhile, India’s form in 50-over cricket has been a bit underwhelming and although they boast proven match-winners such as Kohli, Bumrah and Jadeja, they are also missing some key ingredients to their side via the absences of Rohit and Bhuvneshwar.

Complicating matters is that it has been nine months since their last ODI which suggests we’d be better served looking over the IPL for answers, so rather than touch the match odds here we’re going to focus on one player who did enjoy himself in the T20 extravaganza – Shikhar Dhawan.

Dhawan finished as the second-highest run-scorer in the IPL and was the only player to hit multiple centuries, so we know his recent form is good, but he also quite literally has the runs on the board in this format, averaging 61.00 in his past eight ODI innings, top-scoring in four.

Moreover, the damaging left-hander has shown a likeness for the Aussies, averaging 45.80 against the Australians over his career, with that average ballooning to 88.40 in his last five ODIs against Friday’s opponents so we’ll be backing him to get the job done against his favourite side again

Betting Strategy

BACK (WIN) — Shikhar Dhawan Top Indian Batsman at $4.00+ for 1 unit

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