Australia v India Third ODI
Sunday January 17, 2:20pm
India will be looking to keep the series alive when they take on Australia in the third ODI at the MCG on Sunday.
For the second time in two games the Aussies conceded over 300 bowling first at the Gabba on Friday but had few concerns in cruising to the target with an over to spare. While India managed to step up the run rate in the middle overs of their innings, Australia’s death bowlers struck back, restricting the opposition to just 75 off the last ten overs despite India beginning that period with eight wickets in hand. Openers Aaron Finch and Shaun Marsh laid the platform for the chase with a partnership of 145, before the familiar pair of Steve Smith (46) and George Bailey (76 not out) ensured that the hosts would go into this match 2-0 up in the series. It’s been confirmed that Josh Hazlewood will be rested for the remainder of the summer, however all-rounder Mitchell Marsh should be available and could potentially replace Kane Richardson who came away with the unflattering figures of 0/61 off eight overs at the Gabba.
It must have felt like Groundhog Day for the visitors when a promising start, highlighted by another century to Rohit Sharma (124), failed to catapult them to a score of around 330 which they appeared to be targeting. MS Dhoni then watched on as his toothless bowling attack failed to land the sufficient blows that would prevent another comfortable Australian victory. While spinners Ravi Ashwin and Ravi Jadeja would appear to be under pressure for their spots from all-rounder Rishi Dhawan, Dhoni has insisted that Dhawan will only come into the side for a batsman. That batsman could be Rishi’s namesake Shikhar Dhawan who has failed to reach double-figures in both opening fixtures and is averaging just 29.90 in his last ten ODI innings. If the opener is dropped it could result in an elevation for Ajinka Rahane who compiled a classy 89 off just 80 balls in Brisbane.
Of course the last ODI to be played at the MCG was the World Cup Final where New Zealand were skittled for 183 batting first, however that appears to be an aberration with the previous four first innings scores all exceeding 300. The MCG can be a tough place for opening batsmen to get set with seven of the previous ten opening partnerships failing to get past 25, including five that failed to get to double-figures.
After two almost identical matches the pre-match prices also remain stable with Australia 1.42 to secure the series, while India are 3.25 to claim their first victory. Again you could do far worse than simply take on both sides in the field as the batsmen have proved their superiority over the first two games of the series and this pattern seems unlikely to alter on what is generally a batsman-friendly pitch in Melbourne.
However I think there’s more value in getting with India’s batsmen early on. In the first ten overs of both matches in this series India has outscored their hosts relatively comfortably (by 12 in Perth and by 7 in Brisbane). The visitors’ top-order is likely to look to score even faster from the get-go, given that their middle-order has failed to advance them to a defendable target. The Australian attack is also missing the steady influence of Hazlewood and while Indian opener Dhawan has been in poor touch, he still generally scores quickly alongside Rohit Sharma who is coming off two consecutive centuries.
For Australia, the absence of David Warner means Finch is now opening with the more sedate Shaun Marsh and while the pair put on 145 for the first wicket at nearly a run a ball they only scored at four an over inside the first ten. Furthermore the Indian quicks have bowled much tighter than the spinners so I’ll be looking to back the visitors to be in front after ten overs at around even money or better.