Deadline: November 27, 9:10 AM IST
Venue: Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney
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The Sydney Cricket Ground is, traditionally, a good wicket for spin as well as reverse-swing – the traits usually found in the subcontinent but with extra bounce. However, the bowlers are smashed to the pulp if they do not get their lines right. To put the report into perspective, the pitch favours batsmen and bowlers alike.
Captains are likely to bat first, as the chasing team could not taste success in the last 5 ODIs.
Of the 14 innings he batted at the venue, David Warner has managed 5 fifties and 3 hundreds – one of which came against India. His overall tally reads 801 runs with a strike rate of 101. Given his form in the recently concluded Indian T20 League, Warner is likely to continue his love affair with the Sydney Cricket Ground.
The usually aggressive Virat Kohli is even more pumped when he is pitted against Australia. He likes playing fire with fire, and tough teams only get the better out of him. He has hit 1,910 runs at a terrific average of 54.5 against Australia, including 8 hundreds. There, nonetheless, is a plot twist: he has scored a mere 36 runs in 5 ODIs at Sydney but has the highest score of 61* in a challenging chase in a T20I in 2018.
On the sluggish wickets of Dubai, Jasprit Bumrah rattled the batsmen with his raw pace. His 27 wickets came at a stunning strike rate of 13.3. Imagine the performances he will showcase on the fast and bouncy wickets in Australia.
Steven Smith is a better player than what we witnessed last month. He was being too aggressive and, in the process, played uncharacteristic shots. This time, thank goodness, he does not have to go all guns blazing. We will see a relaxed (by relaxed, I mean extraordinary) Smith in the ODIs. His record at Sydney should help him regain his confidence: he has scored 640 runs at 53.3, comprising 2 fifties and as many hundreds.
The otherwise charming Shikhar Dhawan seems fired up – just like his captain – against Australia. He has scored 6 fifties and 4 hundreds against them.
Virat Kohli has had trouble picking Adam Zampa’s leg-spinners. Zampa not only has been making scoring difficult but also has dismissed the Indian captain five times.
There, for that matter, is a greater battle for the fans: Glenn Maxwell vs Yuzvendra Chahal. Chahal has gotten the better of Maxwell as many as 9 times in ODIs, T20Is, and Indian T20 League combined.
To make matters more interesting, the only Indian player in the squad to have scored a hundred against Australia in their own den is Manish Pandey. He scored an unbeaten 104 off 81 in a chase of 331 runs at the very venue in 2016.
Although the year 2020 has been gloomy for the rest of the world, KL Rahul has had a great time scoring runs. Before winding up as the highest run-scorer in the Indian T20 League, Rahul had displayed great character not only as an opener and a middle-order batsman but also as a wicketkeeper. In India’s tour to New Zealand earlier this year, he scored 428 runs in 5 T20Is and 3 ODIs.
Pat Cummins has taken 11 wickets in 6 matches at Sydney. Against India, his tally reads 21 wickets in 15 matches.
Australia: Aaron Finch (c), David Warner, Steven Smith, Marnus Labuschagne, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Alex Carey (wk), Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Adam Zampa
India: Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul (wk), Virat Kohli (c), Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammad Shami, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Kuldeep Yadav/Navdeep Saini