Australia’s roller-coaster tour of India reaches Visakhapatnam now. Throughout the Test series, they were bamboozled by the spin duo of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja. In the first ODI in Mumbai, their batting came crashing down to the pace and sharp seam movement of Mohammed Shami and Mohammed Siraj.
They were 129/1 at one stage but were bowled out for 188, within 36 overs. It was an inexplicable collapse, considering they had someone like Marcus Stoinis batting at number eight. And their tail had Adam Zampa at number 11, someone with six first-class fifties.
The pacers kept Australia in the hunt in the second innings but India displayed the use of batting depth, crossing the finish line with KL Rahul and Jadeja. India will now be targetting another white-ball series victory at home, with a win in Vizag. They are further bolstered by Rohit Sharma joining the team after skipping the first game due to personal reasons.
Much like the Test series, Australia had an inexplicable collapse in the first match. A loss in the first match and they need to act immediately.
Things to watch out for
Time is running out for Suryakumar Yadav and Marnus Labuschagne. Both made it to the ODI side following different routes. SKY has been phenomenal in T20s and managed to sneak into the ODI squad. Meanwhile, Labuschagne is part of the ODI setup largely because of his red-ball credentials. None of them have translated their potential in the one-day side. Surya averages 27.06 in 21 ODIs while Labuschagne is lagging at 31.5.
Both are treading on thin ice. Surya has probably his last (and only) full-time ODI series at his disposal due to Shreyas Iyer’s absence. David Warner is not far away from regaining full fitness. Considering that each of Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Cameron Green and Marcus Stoinis adds value with their secondary skill in bowling, Labuschagne is closing in on facing the axe. Both had forgettable outings in Mumbai. Surya scored a duck and Labuschagne scored 15.
This could be the last of the two opportunities for Surya. In Labuschagne’s case, if Warner is fit to walk back in the XI, there is a good chance we have seen the last of him in this series.
Pitch and conditions
Vizag’s ACA-VDCA Stadium is another high-scoring venue in the country. The average first innings score here, in four ODIs dated back to 2016, has been 298. The overall average of 37.3 runs per wicket is the fifth highest among the 11 Indian venues that have hosted three ODIs or more in the last seven years.
One difference from Mumbai though. If that was a deck for the pacers, Vizag has mostly supported spinners more. Spinners have picked 55.6% of the wickets since 2016. Wrist-spinners, have accounted for nearly 37% of the total wickets.
Meanwhile, the weather could play a part with rain knocking the southern cities of India. So a shortened game is on the cards.
> Rohit is likely to replace Ishan Kishan in the side. That means India won’t have a left-hander in their top five. Ravindra Jadeja batted at seven in Mumbai but there is a strong case for his promotion in the batting-order for the remaining two games.
> The conditions in Mumbai neutralized the Adam Zampa effect for Australia but expect the leg-spinner to be more effective in Vizag. He has dismissed Virat Kohli five times, Rohit Sharma four times and KL Rahul and Hardik Pandya thrice each. It will be interesting to see how Australia employ Zampa to his most efficient effect to stay alive in the series. Leg-spinners have 20% of wickets here, the most by any spin bowling type.
Rohit Sharma will replace Ishan Kishan in the XI. Given the spin-friendly numbers at the venue, there is a strong case for Shardul Thakur making way for Washington Sundar.
Shubman Gill, Rohit Sharma ( c ), Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, KL Rahul (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Hardik Pandya, Washington Sundar, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammad Shami, Mohammed Siraj
Australia’s XI is subjected to David Warner’s fitness. Warner’s inclusion will lead to a re-shuffling of the batting order with Mitchell Marsh expected to replace Marnus Labuschagne at number four.
Travis Head, Mitchell Marsh, Steve Smith ( c ), David Warner/Marnus Labuschagne, Josh Inglis (wk), Cameron Green, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Sean Abbott, Mitchel Starc, Adam Zampa
*If Warner is included, he will open alongside Head with Marsh batting at number four