Australia v India First ODI
Tuesday, 12 January 14:20 EST
The five-match ODI series between the two top-ranked nations, Australia and India, kicks-off on Tuesday at the WACA.
World champions Australia embark on their first one-day series since defeating England 3-2 in September. The hosts have few changes to their top seven from that series with David Warner returning to open with Aaron Finch, while Steve Smith, George Bailey, Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Marsh and Matthew Wade form a powerful middle-order. The versatile Shaun Marsh will likely be waiting in the wings, while Joe Burns, Shane Watson and Marcus Stoinis have all been left out of the squad after minimal contributions in the Old Dart. There have, however, been wholesale changes to the bowling attack, most of them involuntary with Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Nathan Coulter-Nile all suffering long-term injuries. Mitchell Johnson has also retired, while James Pattinson is being rested, leaving a relatively inexperienced attack featuring Josh Hazlewood, James Faulkner, Kane Richardson and potential debutants Scott Boland and Joel Paris. Australia have won six of their past seven ODI series’ and haven’t lost a series at home since 2010/11 when they were overturned by Sri Lanka 2-1.
Since last summer’s World Cup, India have lost away to Bangladesh and at home to South Africa, either side of a 3-0 series win over Zimbabwe. Like Australia they have little disruption to their batting unit aside from the exclusion of the experienced Suresh Raina with the explosive Manish Pandey preferred. However they have also made vast changes to the bowling attack with Amit Mishra and Harbhajan Singh dropped, while Mohit Sharma and Mohammed Shami will miss the tour through injury. The visitors have stacked their squad with all-rounders such as Ravi Jadeja, Rishi Dhawan and Gurkareet Singh alongside rookie left-arm quick Barinder Sran. With indifferent form since the World Cup the Indians will be looking to turn things around and replicate the kind of performances that lifted them to a surprise semi-finals appearance in the antipodes 12 months ago.
In recent times the WACA has been relatively low-scoring in ODIs with the past five first innings scores (excluding World Cup matches involving associate nations) failing to pass 300. In those games the new ball has done plenty of damage with eight of ten opening partnerships failing to get past 20. However it’s also worth noting that a high proportion of runs have come in boundaries with an average of 37 fours in those last five games, accounting for more than 35% of total runs scored.
Australia are fairly firm favourites at 1.46 with India outsiders at 3.20 in early markets. The hosts no doubt deserve favouritism but one area where the visitors may have their measure is when their highly-established and deep batting line-up, featuring the likes of Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Ajinka Rahane and MS Dhoni, come up against the Aussies’ relatively inexperienced bowling attack. It’s also worth noting that a number of Australia’s bowlers haven’t hit peak form during the Big Bash with Faulkner, Richardson, Boland, Paris and Maxwell all conceding at least eight runs an over in the competition.
While the WACA hasn’t been the easiest place to bat at in recent times in one-day cricket and Australia have been close to unbeatable at home in this format, I think there is some value in opposing the home side in the field if India bat first at the current price of 1.46. However with a similar mismatch between Australia’s powerful batting unit and India’s impotent attack I’d be looking to trade out once Australia reach 2.25 or bigger.
A consideration I expect to continue is the high proportion of runs scored via boundaries, especially with the WACA’s traditional lightning outfield. Despite the recent low scores, the fours line of 42.5 has been exceeded in three of the past six games at the WACA. Both teams also hold much stronger batting line-ups than bowling, with established international batsmen such as Warner, Smith, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and MS Dhoni lining up against inexperienced bowlers. With this in mind, I’ll be looking to back the overs here at 1.90 or better.