Australia v India Fifth ODI
Saturday January 23, 2:20pm
India will be looking to avoid a whitewash when the ODI series against Australia moves to Sydney for the fifth and final match on Saturday.
Australia secured a 4-0 series lead with a dramatic comeback in Canberra on Wednesday. Despite amassing a formidable 8/348, the Aussies looked dead and buried when Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli propelled India to 1-277, but with less than a run a ball required and with nine wickets in the shed they proceeded to collapse in a fashion more reminiscent of neighbours and fierce rivals Pakistan, losing 9/46 to ultimately finish 25 runs short. South Australian quick Kane Richardson precipitated the collapse, taking 5/68 including the key wicket of Virat Kohli. Earlier Aaron Finch (107) and David Warner (93) became reacquainted at the top of the order with a 187-run opening stand, before quick-fire cameos from Steve Smith (51 off 29) and Glenn Maxwell (41 off 20) catapulted Australia to their highest first innings total since last summer’s World Cup. Nathan Lyon will be hoping for a more fruitful outing at the SCG after being taken for 76 off his ten overs upon his return to the side at Manuka and could be the sole spin option with Maxwell in doubt after suffering a blow to the knee on Wednesday.
India will still be wondering how they have failed to win a match at this point having compiled sizeable totals in the first three games before trading as low at 1.02 in the last encounter. Virat Kohli has been in imperious form with his 106 in Canberra his second consecutive hundred and fourth consecutive half-century of the series. Opener Shikhar Dhawan has also gone from the verge of being dropped to successive scores of 126 and 68, however the visitors will be hoping for more punch from their middle-to-lower order to drive them to a match-winning total. Gurkeerat Singh may struggle to retain his place in Sydney after delivering three expensive overs and making just five with the bat, with either Manish Pandey or Ravi Ashwin waiting in the wings. One of the few positives for India’s bowling attack has been the performance of experienced quick Ishant Sharma who claimed four wickets at Manuka Oval is the only Indian bowler averaging under 40 with the ball in this series.
The SCG has been one of the more volatile grounds in ODIs of late with the last five first innings scores reading 7/328, 133, 111, 9/376 and 5/408. The Australians have a particularly strong record at Sydney having won 11 of their past 13 completed ODIs here, including the last seven. Interestingly six of the last nine ODIs at the SCG have also been won by the team batting second.
Despite snatching victory from the jaws of defeat in the last match Australia remain at the stable starting price of 1.41 with India 3.2 outsiders. While I don’t wish to make a habit of opposing the number one side on a run of 18 consecutive home victories there are plenty of factors to suggest that the hosts will at least trade much higher throughout the game.
Firstly while India find themselves 4-0 down they have traded at odds-on in every single game so far and as mentioned got themselves into a near-impregnable position in the last game before imploding. Their top-order is in explosive form with Kohli and Rohit Sharma both averaging in excess of 90 and they will be desperate to avoid a humiliating 5-0 deficit. Meanwhile Australia have no trophy or ranking position to play for which could see them experiment with the side further after Mitchell Marsh’s unsuccessful elevation to first-drop in Canberra. The potential loss of Maxwell is also a significant one after consecutive match-winning contributions with the bat coupled with the fact that his bowling will be missed at the traditionally spin-friendly SCG.
However with India’s failure to get over the line so far in the series and Australia’s incredible recent record at home and in particular the SCG, I’m proposing a lay-to-back strategy whereby we oppose the Aussies at their starting price of 1.42, however look to back the World Champions as soon as they venture past even money.