India and Australia are all set to square off against each other in the upcoming ODI series. The Steve Smith-led team is in subcontinent for a five-match ODI series and 3 T20Is. And if the 2017 Test series between the two cricketing power houses is anything to go by, we are in for another riveting contest.
The last ODI series between the two teams in India was heavily dominated by batsmen and with the ongoing trend of flat decks in white-ball cricket, a similar scenario is expected this time around as well. However, bowlers have evolved over the time and have added more weapons in their arsenal in order to succeed in limited-overs cricket.
Here is a look at five key battles to watch out for in the upcoming series.
Rohit Sharma vs Pat Cummins
The right-handed Indian batsman will be determined to continue his good form after a highly successful series in Sri Lanka. Rohit has been in good touch since the Champions Trophy and has regularly provided solid starts to India in ODIs. Skipper Virat Kohli will trust his deputy yet again with the duty of laying the foundation for the middle-order batsmen. The batsman, however, will be under added pressure due to the absence of Shikhar Dhawan in the first three ODIs.
It will be express pace bowler Pat Cummins’ duty to ensure Rohit doesn’t get the desired start in the series. In the absence of Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood, Cummins has emerged as the leader of Australian attack. The bowler had a good series in Bangladesh regardless of the unhelpful conditions. And more of the same is unexpected from him in the series.
Steve Smith vs Kuldeep Yadav
Smith is one of the best batsmen going around. With his impressive performances in the Test series earlier this year in India, he has proved that he’s a equally good batsman on subcontinent pitches and against the spinners as he’s in any other part of the world. The Aussie skipper loves to lead from the front and will be looking to be at his best once again to help the visitors score big in the series.
It will be the duty of the wrist spinners to pick up crucial wickets during the middle overs on the flat pitches. Kuldeep picked up four wickets in the first innings of the Dharmasala Test, the last time India played against Australia. The Aussies failed to pick Kuldeep’s wrong one in the Test and have flown in a mystery bowler from Kerala to prepare for the challenge.
Virat Kohli vs Adam Zampa
Pace, spin; nothing seems to work nowadays against Kohli. The skipper had a fabulous series in Sri Lanka. His unbelievable records in limited-overs cricket is a testament of how much he loves white-ball cricket and he will be aiming for another run feast against Aussies against whom he has an impressive record.
The duty to silence the Delhi lad is expected to fall on Australia No. 1 spinner Adam Zampa. Pacers and finger spinners are not expected to make much of an impact on flat and unresponsive pitches. On the other hand, with his leg-spin, wrong one and top-spin, Zampa wil be Smith’s go-to man to break Kohli’s dominance.
Glenn Maxwell vs Jasprit Bumrah
Maxwell is one of the most dangerous batsmen in death overs. The right-handed batsman has shown in IPL that he enjoys batting on lifeless pitches of India. And could become a big threat towards the end due to his ability to explode at will and smash bowlers around the park.
It’s a challenge Bumrah will relish. With his ability to bowl toe-crushing yorkers regularly, the 23-year-old has emerged as one of the best bowlers in death overs. Bumrah picked up 15 wickets in the recently concluded series in Sri Lanka and will aim to silence the Aussie big hitters in the upcoming series.
Passion vs aggression
The high-voltage India vs Australia series is never short of drama, controversy, mind games and off-field banter. And it’s not expected to be any different this time. While the Aussies are known for playing an aggressive brand of cricket and having a similar attitude on the pitch, India under Kohli have always had their hearts on their sleeves.
Fireworks are expected on and off the pitch. But the captains will not want their players to get carried away. While it’s important to give it back to your opposition. In a battle of equals, fine margins will decide the result of the matches and nerves will decide the winner.
Feature image: AFP