Australia v India Fourth ODI
Wednesday January 20, 2:20pm
With the series already lost India will be playing for pride when they tackle Australia at Canberra’s Manuka Oval on Wednesday.
Australia wrapped up the series with a three-wicket win at the MCG on Sunday after yet another sizeable chase, this time running down the visitors’ 6/295 with seven balls to spare. Glenn Maxwell was the star with his brilliant 96 off 83 balls guiding the Aussies home after opener Shaun Marsh had kick-started the chase with a classy 62. Playing his first match of the series John Hastings was the pick of the bowlers, claiming 4/58 which helped restrict India to a total under 300. Hastings can expect more opportunities throughout the series with Josh Hazlewood to be rested for the remainder of the summer, however Joel Paris has been allowed to return to the BBL with off-spinner Nathan Lyon receiving a belated call-up to the one-day squad. David Warner also returns to the side following parental leave which may see Shaun Marsh squeezed out of the starting XI despite consecutive half-centuries, while Usman Khawaja drops out of the squad altogether.
It was the same old story for India who once again compiled a more than competitive total batting first, yet were unable to sufficiently restrain Australia’s batting unit despite taking wickets on a more regular basis. For once Rohit Sharma failed to fire but opening partner Shikhar Dhawan enjoyed a return to form with 68, however the real star was Virat Kohli who struck a run-a-ball 117 to follow up earlier scores of 59 and 91. Another half-century to Ajinkya Rahane and a quick-fire 23 off just nine balls from MS Dhoni propelled the Indians to their third consecutive score in excess of 290, but it wasn’t enough to keep the series alive. With the ball Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma and Ravi Jadeja all took two wickets, however Jadeja was the only bowler to leak runs at less than five an over on a pitch which did take some spin. If Manuka produces a similar surface then Ravi Ashwin could earn a recall with either Rishi Dhawan or Gurkeerat Singh in the firing line.
One of Australia’s newest international grounds, Manuka has hosted just seven ODIs but already has a reputation as a particularly high-scoring ground. During the World Cup South Africa amassed 4/411 against Ireland, while the West Indies plundered 2/372 against Zimbabwe. Prior to that Australia made consecutive scores of 329 against the Windies in 2013 and South Africa in 2014 so expect to see another run-fest on Wednesday. The last five ODIs in Canberra have been won by the side batting first so it will be interesting to see if Australian captain Steve Smith rethinks his tactic of choosing to field first, even though it has served the home side well over the first three games.
The hosts are 1.44 favourites to extend their lead in the series to 4-0, with India priced at 3.15 to turn around their fortunes in the nation’s capital. Given the hosts’ dominance and the inclusions of Warner and Lyon this price is just about backable, however we don’t really want to be taking on the Indian top-order on a pitch that is made for runs so we’ll hold fire on the match odds for now.
India may have lost all three matches in the series so far but there is one area where they have come out on top in every single game – the sixes count. Over the course of the series India have hit 18 sixes compared to just nine from Australia, outpointing them for maximums in every encounter. Furthermore every available Australian frontline bowler has been hit for six, while for India the majority of have been conceded by pacemen Yadav and Barinder Sran, both of whom could be dropped for this match. On a ground that has averaged just shy of 12 sixes a match over the last five games, I expect the visitors to show even more intent with the bat and continue to clear the boundary more often than the home side at the juicy odds of 2.30 or better.