Both sides are fierce competitors and are led two of the best batsmen in world cricket but there couldn’t be a bigger disparity between the form of hosts India and tourists Australia as the pair look set to renew hostilities in a brief, but likely intense 5-match One Day International series starting tonight in Chennai.
We are only a Champions Trophy, which both sides will count as a failure for very different reasons and a short 2-Test tour of Bangladesh removed from the Australians last touring India for a 4-match Test series in which they pushed the hosts, even winning the first Test, but ultimately lost 2-1.
A run of failures in Asia
That Test series went some way to repairing faith in an Australian outfit often accused of horrific failure on the sub-continent but, ultimately, it went down as another loss away from home, a pattern that has plagued the Aussies for some time.
The format changes from the five-day Tests to the fifty over ODIs but the intensity, passion and will to win will be the same, something both teams have adopted from their fiery, often-grumpy leaders Steve Smith and Virat Kohli, respectively.
It has, however, been the 50-over format that has seen some of Australia’s worst cricket in recent times, especially away from home where they have lost consecutive matches, last managing a win against Ireland in September of 2016.
An emphasis on squad rotation, player management and using the format to hand experience to young players has resulted in an almost apathetic approach to the One Day International cricket, which is fast becoming more a proving ground for new talent than a format where winning is everything.
With superstar talents like captain Smith, the enigmatic David Warner and Glenn Maxwell, Australia will always pose a serious threat in any format, but the need to bounce back and find their best cricket in a hostile environment against a hungry opposition desperate to continue to stamp their authority on the tourists is paramount.
A series of great importance
Rarely has an ultimately meaningless 5-match ODI series held so much importance in the grand scheme of things for those in green and gold. They face an Indian side which has won 12 of their last 15 ODI matches, all away from the comfort and helpful conditions of India and boasting the dangerous spin of Ravi Ashwin, Ravi Jadeja, Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav, two entrenched superstars and two preferred wrist-spinning options who have made the format their own.
Throw in limited-overs stars like Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah, and the focal point of the side, skipper and spiritual leader Virat Kohli along with former captain MS Dhoni, who maintains an aura of calm and purpose in the side, and you have a tremendous limited-overs side capable of dominating at home or away.
With India coming home from a resounding success in Sri Lanka, in which they won all three Test matches, all five ODI matches, and the lone Twenty20 match, there is an expectation that good form will continue and that a vulnerable Australian side could provide the perfect cannon fodder for Kohli’s men.
To have any chance of stopping the Indian juggernaut, Australia must place a proper emphasis on the fifty-over format and fight, scratch and claw their way through one of the toughest contests in world cricket.
Who do you think will win the best of five ODI series, Australia or India? Let us know in the comments below.
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