First ODI – 11:20 local time on Tuesday, January 12, 2016 at the WACA Ground, Perth
$1.57 at WilliamHill.com
ICC ranking: 1st
ODI form: W W L L W
$2.62 at www.Bet365.com
ICC ranking: 2nd
ODI form: L W L W L
CAN Australia’s rookie bowling attack tame the superstar batting talent of India?
That’s what everybody is wondering ahead of Tuesday’s One Day International opener at Perth.
Joel Paris and Scott Boland have never played senior cricket for Australia, while Kane Richardson boasts a princely sum of eight ODI caps.
But Boland’s Victorian teammate, Matthew Wade, has tipped the new boys to shine under the international spotlight.
“I’ve had a lot to do with Scott Boland and his progress over the last 18 months has been phenomenal,” the Australia wicketkeeper told the press this week.
“To play in front of big crowds, I mean 80,000 at the MCG [for last weekend’s Big Bash derby], that’s international cricket kind of stuff.
“They don’t have to do anything different to what they normally do.”
Melbourne Stars have benefitted hugely from Boland’s late-innings efforts in the 2015-16 Big Bash League, and Wade insisted the 26-year-old quick would get the chance to showcase those closing skills on the big stage.
“Being put in these pressure situations time and time again, now he feels a little bit more calm,” the Victoria captain said.
“He’ll bowl at the end a little bit in one-day cricket for Australia. That will probably be his role.
“There’s definitely an opening there for him. He has worked really hard over the last 18 months to really hone those skills and be a finisher.
“That has probably got him picked in the Australian team, to be honest. He can bowl upfront with a newer ball but his death stuff has been outstanding over the last 12 months so he’ll own that and hopefully dominate that for us.”
With Australia missing most of their front-line attack, it’s the Indians who will bring the tried-and-tested pace stocks to the WACA.
Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami starred at the 2015 Cricket World Cup, taking 35 wickets between them at a combined strike rate of under 21.5.
They also boast a star-studded batting lineup featuring three of the world’s top 10 ODI sloggers: Virat Kohli (second), MS Dhoni (sixth) and Shikhar Dhawan (seventh).
They’ve even left a few notable names behind, with neither Suresh Raina nor Yuvraj Singh making the 15-man squad for the five ODI fixtures.
Australia and dumped India out of the World Cup at the semifinal stage last year, but former star batsman V.V.S. Laxman has pointed out that Dhoni’s men now have a great opportunity to conquer an Aussie side in transition.
“India has an excellent chance of beating Australia,” Laxman said in recent discussion with cricket journalist Harsha Bhogle.
“Since the time we last played Australia [in the World Cup semifinals], Michael Clarke, Mitchell Johnson and Brad Haddin have retired.
“Mitchell Starc is injured and I guess Steve Smith is having fitness issues… Also, Australia’s fast bowling options do not look the same.”
Australia ODI squad
Steven Smith (captain)
David Warner (vice-captain)
India ODI squad
MS Dhoni (captain)
Virat Kohli (vice-captain)
Result – Australia to win ($1.57 at William Hill)
Highest opening partnership – Australia ($1.75 at William Hill)
Hundred to be scored? – No ($2.20 at Bet365)
While Australia haven’t assembled for any ODIs since their tour of the UK last September, it’s hard to bet against them here.
They are the defending world champions, the top-ranked side in the official ICC rankings, and they are playing on home soil.
The Aussies’ only potential weakness is their inexperienced pace attack, which features two uncapped players and is missing the number one short-form bowler on the planet in Mitch Starc.
If the likes Boland, Paris and Richardson get it wrong, they could be exploited on a WACA wicket which has displayed absolutely none of its characteristic pace and bounce in recent times.
India, meanwhile, are a much-improved bowling unit, as the seam pairing of Shami and Yadav showed during the ICC Cricket World Cup last year.
They’ve also got some very capable spinning options in Ashwin and Jadeja.
But Australia’s batsmen are in fine form: Warner smashed a Test century off 82 balls the other day, Finch, Bailey and Maxwell have all shown good touch in the Big Bash League, and Steve Smith is Steve Smith.
It could be a shootout, but one in which the hosts should prevail.
Top batsman betting picks
David Warner – $4 (William Hill)
Last time Warner played an ODI at the WACA, he scored 178 off 133 balls. If his blitzing ton at Sydney on Thursday is any indication, the Perth crowd could be in for a little bit of a treat.
George Bailey – $6 (William Hill)
With Michael Clarke retired, the experienced Bailey will now get the chance to nail down the number four slot. He was excellent in the ODI series against England last year and has looked the goods in the BBL.
Virat Kohli – $4.20 (Sportsbet)
While his character may divide public opinion like beetroot on burgers, Kohli is undeniably India’s best bat. At 27, the Delhi native has amassed over 6800 ODI runs and 23 hundreds at an average of 50.60. Enough said.
Shikhar Dhawan – $5.50 (Sportsbet)
After a pretty miserable Test tour of Australia in 2014-15, Dhawan was India’s top runscorer at the Cricket World Cup. The hard-hitting lefty could do some real damage if the Perth pitch is as flat as it was during New Zealand’s recent Test tour.
Top wicket-taker value bets
Josh Hazlewood – $4 (William Hill)
As the only specialist seamer remaining from Australia’s successful World Cup squad, Hazlewood is an obvious choice here. He could be rested at some point during the series, but he should play in Perth after bowling only 18 overs in the rain-affected Sydney Test.
James Faulkner – $4 (Sportsbet)
Australia’s CWC final hero is back from international exile after that drink-driving incident in Manchester last year. With Starc out and Mitch Johnson retired, the left-arm seamer may assume greater responsibility with the ball this summer.
Umesh Yadav – $4 (William Hill)
Only Mitch Starc and Trent Boult beat Yadav’s haul of 18 wickets at the 2015 Cricket World Cup. He is the quickest of the Indian pace bowlers and could cause real problems if he gets his length right early on.
Ravichandran Ashwin – $4.50 (Sportsbet)
In the grand scheme of modern-day spin bowlers, Ashwin is sorely underrated. While his career figures may be inflated due to the abundance of turning wickets in his homeland, the Tamil Nadu offy is a reliable contributor in all conditions and in all formats.
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