India take on Australia in the 14th game of the 2019 World Cup at The Oval this Sunday and I will be at the game as a part of following Team India all throughout this tournament.
Move over the India-Sri Lanka rivalry! India will be playing Australia, yet again, for the 22nd time since the start of 2015, and that is second only to the 25 ODIs that Afghanistan and Ireland have played against each other in that period. For those asking about India and Sri Lanka – just nine ODIs in this period.
Both sides are coming off victories, India beating South Africa by six wickets and with 15 balls to spare and Australia edging out West Indies in a thrill-a-minuter encounter.
Team India Makes a Winning Start
The sense one got looking into India’s opener against South Africa was the side was never in trouble at any stage, never rattled by anything that the Saffers threw at them and overcame any potential nervy moments in style. A confident Australian side will be a different equation obviously.
As far as the Indian XI is concerned for this game, we know of Virat Kohli’s penchant to juggle things around based on the conditions and opponents but the XI that had played against South Africa looks like the best XI with a toss up, at least for me, between Bhuvneshwar and Shami.
Interestingly, Virat Kohli was asked in the previous press conference, how much of a factor was the previous ODI series between India and South Africa a factor in picking the two wrist-spinners against South Africa and this is what he had to say:
“A massive factor. We spoke about the fact the last time we played them, they were not that confident against our spinners. What we experienced was they were not able to rotate strike so well. They were trying to hit their way out of a situation which, for a captain, any day I would love batsmen trying to hit boundaries to get out of trouble rather than rotating strike because the risk factor is high.”
There will be questions around who to play between Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav, but I hope Kuldeep gets backed to deliver and pick wickets instead of being rotated around just because there’s that feeling from some quarters that Australia have begun to pick him up better than before.
Yuzvendra Chahal, surprisingly, played just one ODI in the recent series against Australia but it was brilliant to watch him use the wind at Southampton to get some drift…now it’s been cold in London, it was drizzling but the point here, it’s not as windy as it was in Southampton. Will that be a factor?
The one advantage that India have in playing Kuldeep and Chahal together is that unlike in a bilateral, the opponents cannot grow to get used to playing the two wristies, unlike how it could pan out in a, say a five-match ODI series.
One slight concern could be Shikhar Dhawan’s form: Last nine innings he has one score over 28 – he went on to score a 100.
His IPL form was good but the big question is whether the opposition has now had a wood on him OR his ICC form will return and rescue him. Kohli had noted he wouldnt want to change the batting line-up too much but pick and choose bowlers based on the conditions.
Speaking of conditions, India always get a lot of support from the crowds wherever they go but even more so against the Aussies, where the neutral, if any, might, to the anguish of Aussie coach Justin Langer, could get stuck into Steven Smith and David Warner – not that it affected Smith too much in Australia’s win over the Windies!
Australia on a 10-Match Streak
Australia is on a bit of a roll, although some might call their win over West Indies a bitter pill to swallow as Shai Hope put it – for various reasons obviously.
And while these sentiments might be echoed by most fans because of the kind of love that West Indies receive from most followers of the game, the fact is Australia got themselves out of a HUGE hole yet again.
Australia were 79/5 and 147/6 at one stage to score 288 and then needed 37 off 28 with two well-set batsmen at the crease but were sent packing by Mitchell Starc.
They have been doing that in recent times, with India and Pakistan having been at the receiving end of these stunning backs-to-the-walls performances that look to come straight out of the Justin Langer book of grit and determination.
I caught up with Geoff Lemon earlier today, Aussie commentator, journalist and author and his comments are also included in the video.
Australia are on a 10-match winning streak. There are 20 instances of teams with 10 or more wins in a row, Australia have been involved in 10+ wins in a row, SEVEN times out of those 20.
Best for any team is 21 wins – Australia in 2003.
The head to head between India and Australia has always been dramatically in favour of Australia – 77-49 – but here’s the deal. In recent times, and I am looking at post the previous World Cup, both teams have won nine matches apiece.
The two sides have played just three times in England, and all three times were in World Cup – India winning and lost once in 1983, Australia beating India in 1999 en route their title victory.
Now I know I had said earlier than Shami would make my XI but here’s an interesting one.
Finch v Bhuvneshwar: Before 2019, Bhuvneshwar had bowled 175 balls at Finch and conceded 133 runs without getting out. In 2019, Bhuvneshwar has got Finch out four times in 48 balls.
Kohli – has never got out to Starc in ODIs, once to Cummins, in 2017 got out thrice to NCN but then in 2019 has scored 33 off 33 off him and unbeaten.
Zampa’s gotten him out thrice.
This will be the battle to watch – Kohli v Zampa – Zampa’s got him out thrice (but Kohli bats at an ODI strike-rate of 133 against him). We also know what happened with Shreyas Gopal in the IPL, and knowing the batsmanship of Kohli, he would have walked that extra mile to work against leggies.
It is at times like these I like my crystal ball or…umm, Shruti’s tarot cards. I was woefully off the mark in the first game but this is my chance to make a comeback…
I wanted to have a look at the pitch earlier today, but hey, guess what it has been raining all morning and the pitch and the strip from deep cover to deep square-leg was fully covered. So no help there but this will be the fourth game that will be played here after the England-SA opener, SA-Bangladesh and Bangladesh-NZ and in all the three matches, batting hasn’t remained easy in the second part of the innings.
Then again, we have seen how the New Zealand seamers took advantage of bowling first in the warmup game against India but will there be that much assistance for the bowlers first up?
My call is for lesser than 600 runs to be scored in the game in this one – you would probably get reasonable odds for that I feel.
Suneer Chowdhary signing off!