India defeated Australia by 21 runs in the first ODI of the five-match series. The match was reduced to 21 overs in the second innings due to a rain delay, reducing a 282 run target to 164. The Australian batsmen were restricted to 137-9 after the spinners played their part and kept chipping away with wickets.
CricBuzz reported that rain caused practice sessions for the Australians cancelled as the threat of an interruption hangs in the air for the next match at Kolkata’s Eden Gardens. This will force both teams to make strategic changes and hope they win the toss so they can bat second.
The rain factor gives the Indians a heavy advantage regardless of the outcome of the toss, given their superior suitability to spin-friendly conditions. What can the Aussies do to counter this?
David Warner, Steven Smith (c), Ashton Agar, Hilton Cartwright, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Glenn Maxwell, James Faulkner, Matthew Wade, Pat Cummins, Travis Head, Marcus Stoinis, Adam Zampa, Kane Richardson, Peter Handscomb, Aaron Finch
Virat Kohli (c), Rohit Sharma, Lokesh Rahul, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, Ajinkya Rahane, MS Dhoni, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami
Where the Teams Stand
If the rain continues to hit Kolkata, Australia need a plan. Even without the rain, the Eden Gardens is a traditionally slow wicket. Thankfully, they have the resources in the bowling department. Batting, however, is another story, especially after five out of nine succumbed to spin in the last match. Warner and Smith are experienced enough to play spin as successfully as any subcontinental batsman. Maxwell also played spin well in the last match, hitting Yadav for three sixes in a row. The rest are average at playing slow bowling. This is a serious liability for them at least for the next match, but there is little that can be done about it.
As for the bowling, Australia have plenty of slow bowling options, but the quality is another matter. Zampa and Agar are the only two pure spinning options in the squad, and the latter must be drafted in at the expense of the underperforming Cartwright. Besides them, Maxwell, Head and Smith can all technically bowl spin, but Maxwell is perhaps the only one to have done it with any semblance of consistency for the teams he has been a part of. Still, three spinning options is sufficient considering India will most likely have a maximum of three too. Coulter-Nile and Cummins, while pacers, will also be key to the Australian cause given the formers surprising success in the IPL and the last match and Cummins’ general quality.
The visitors would benefit by using an aggressive batting approach regardless of the number of overs they bowl. None of the batsmen except Faulkner and Maxwell had a strike rate of above 100 in the last match, and all the others except Warner scored less than ten. Not that they must swing at every ball, but a conservative approach does not seem to be a productive way of getting to a big total.
Rain or no rain, India are pretty well placed. They have plenty of quality spin options and a good batting lineup for home conditions. Their main concern right now is a possible over-reliance on Virat Kohli. Despite managing without a major contribution from him last time, one can’t be sure if they will handle themselves again if he falls early in the second ODI.
Eden Gardens is a happy hunting ground for Sharma, who scored 264 at the same ground in an ODI, besides all the other centuries at the venue. He will relish returning to Kolkata. Rahane is also a rock-solid batsman technically and can hold his own anywhere. Dhoni and Pandya have been in great form, but the four and five slots are a slight concern.
Jadhav and Pandey have been playing well too, the latter more than the former, but their reliability is still an issue. Pandey has plenty of experience playing at the Gardens thanks to his association with KKR in the IPL, so he should be well equipped to deal with the conditions, which leaves Jadhav the strongest liability for the Indians.
Kohli can make two possible changes in his bowling attack for Thursday. First, he could swap Bhuvneshwar for either of Yadav or Shami, or rope in Jadeja for Kuldeep Yadav to provide the team with some power hitting lower down the order given the slow conditions. Bumrah, Chahal, and Pandya have been sensational with the ball recently, and will probably retain their places in the team. Yadav was expensive in the last match but took two wickets as well to contend for his spot in the team. In terms of solely bowling, Yadav is the better option to go with if that’s what Kohli wants to prioritise over batting skill.
India will back themselves to win the second match no matter what happens on Thursday, and being the home team, they should. It might be too early to say, but it is their match to lose.
India wins again.
Can Australian bounce back and level the series or will India go further in front? Let us know in the comments below.
Want to share your opinion? Why not Write For Us?