Strengths and weaknesses exposed in India v Australia ODI Series, World Cup on the horizon
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Australia ended their tour of India with a brilliant victory in the ODI series in Chennai.
The Aussies kept their cool in the series decider as India lost their first one-day home series in four years since Aaron Finch led Australia to a comeback victory in 2019. With the World Cup in India looming later this year, I thought I would assess the health of each of the sides and their strengths and weaknesses.
India will be very disappointed with the way they hit during the series. Despite a jam-packed top seven, they found themselves lacking in every game. An obvious change for India should be Shreyas Iyer back at number four, a player who has averaged 51.12 with the bat since 2022. However, there are fears that his back injury could be more serious than expected. thought so, with surgery even on the cards.
India may have to weigh other options at number four as Suryakumar Yadav had a horror trio of golden ducks this round. He is brilliant in the T20 format but has yet to show his ability in the one-day arena. Another option for India is Sanju Samson, who is averaging 66 after just eleven ODIs.
Despite a rich batting line-up, it still feels like India needs at least one batsman to really hold things together with a big score. Usually that would be Rohit Sharma, but lately the skipper seems to be more focused on quick points rather than big scores like he used to.
Virat Kohli was also used to getting those hundreds, and while he’s not as consistent at the moment, his form is improving in 2023. That would put less pressure on the men most likely to score quickly at the course of the last 20 overs.
India’s fast bowling is in good hands in this format, with strong performances from Mohammed Shami and Mohammed Siraj except in the second game when there were no points to defend on the chessboard. Kuldeep Yadav seems to have secured his place as a frontline spinner, offering X-factor as a left arm leggie.
The question now is who should be India’s fourth bowler, with allrounders Ravindra Jadeja and Hardik Pandya narrowly filling the fifth bowler quota. There is no doubt in my mind that if Jasprit Bumrah was fit he would play but as he is unavailable India felt the need to play a bowler who can deliver with the bat.
This includes versatile spinners Axar Patel and Washington Sundar and versatile pacer Shardul Thakur. Even though Axar is probably the better hitter of the three, I think Sundar offers better variety with his offbeat spin and I’m not sold on Thakur.
Pandya is already playing similar lengths to Thakur. There are no other bowlers good enough for it to be interesting for India to select them and then bowl with a long tail that starts with Kuldeep Yadav at 8 years old.
This would be my ideal India XI
Gill, Rohit, Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul, Pandya, Jadeja, Sundar, Kuldeep, Shami, Siraj (If Bumrah is fit he comes for Sundar)
Although Australia are playing the best cricket in the series, there is less clarity on what their line-up should be, winning despite multiple absences. Australia won this series with a slightly weakened bowling roster, with Mitchell Starc and Adam Zampa really showing their class. Ashton Agar showed in the last game that in sub-continental conditions he has to be taken into account.
The star of the series was Mitch Marsh, playing aggressive cricket every innings. Despite his success at the top, I think he should be moved down because in the long run, David Warner in the middle order doesn’t make much sense.
Australia really needs to stop thinking of Marnus Labuschagne as an automatic choice in the ODI side. After 30 matches, he is averaging just 31 with a strike rate of 83.20. He gets stuck in the middle overs, often unable to accelerate. Mitch Marsh should hit four where he can play with great freedom and intent. Despite Australia winning without them, Cam Green and Glenn Maxwell are both expected to return to the first XI with strength. Both are equally important with the bat and the ball.
I still believe Australia should play the rhythm trio Pat Cummins, Starc and Josh Hazlewood, with Zampa as sole spinner. Starc was at his best in the series, swinging the ball and showing why he is definitely one of the best in the business.
Even in Indian conditions there is a lot to offer for the rapids and each of them has class in the format. However, on slower bridges, like the one in Chennai, Agar should be considered. There’s also the argument that if the big three rapids play, Stoinis could play on Green, as he offers some variance with his cutters, while Green has a similar style to the rapids.
My Ideal Australia XI
Warner, Head, Smith, Marsh, Carey, Green, Maxwell, Cummins, Starc, Hazlewood, Zampa (Agar for one of the rapids on a slow step).
Australia came away with victory on this occasion, but both teams are in good shape for the World Cup later this year. The two will play another ODI series just before the tournament in October.