Australia v India
Sunday 7 December 08:10
TV: live on BT Sport
Dropping like flies
If this T20 series was of paramount importance it wouldn’t be pushing it to say that Australia are in crisis. But the resting of key players like Pat Cummins and Alex Carey has suggested it’s not high on their priority list.
The problem they have, though, is that with a fast-filling treatment room they are looking more like Australia A. Aaron Finch looks set to miss game two with a glute problem, joining David Warner, Ashton Agar and Marcus Stoinis on the sidelines.
That means Matthew Wade could take over as skipper and open the batting with D’Arcy Short, his Hurricanes team-mate. Mitch Swepson, called up as a late replacement from that A team, looks set to continue despite an inauspicious debut.
Possible XI Wade, Short, Smith, Maxwell, Henriques, Green, Abbott, Starc, Swepson, Zampa, Hazlewood
India have a 1-0 lead after they defended 161 in Canberra. On the face of it, it was a fierce performance. But it comes with a caveat.
Those obsessed with ‘the spirit of the game’ will no doubt be locked in debate about whether India should have been allowed to replace Ravi Jadeja with Yuz Chahal as a concussion sub but the bottom line is this: India won because they had an extra man.
Jadeja blitzed Australia’s bowlers at the death and then he made way for Chahal who bamboozled the home batsmen. With that sort of switch there would have to be something significantly wrong for India not to win. Jadeja surely can’t play here, though, which means their balance is, as usual, hard to like.
Either India pick Mayank Agarwal or Shreyas Iyer as an extra batter or they go for another full-time bowler. Kuldeep Yadav might be a good choice considering Australian issues against Chahal.
Possible XI Rahul, Dhawan, Kohli, Samson, Pandey, Hardik, Sundar, Chahal, Kuldeep, Bumrah, Natarajan
There have been only three international T20s at the SCG in the last four years. The first-innings scores (1-2 denote match won by side batting first or second, most recent first) read: 117-2/164-2/107-no result. India beat Australia at the SCG in a T20 two years ago, chasing 165 with six wickets to spare.
But it was a well-balanced India XI, not this muddle. In the Bash it;’s a chasing ground - a 60% win rate in five years. The average first-innings score is coming in at 151 and 48% of teams bust more than 160 up front. It’s not wise to be expecting a run glut. The highest chase is 189. Laying 150 and 160 or more seems wise, particularly as there is a dearth of death hitters on show.
What a mess
Australia are 1.9520/21 with India 2.01/1. We’re not surprised the match odds market can’t split the pair, both teams are a mess.
But at least they are well-matched in that regard. With both outfits so poorly balanced, the factor that could tip one over is surely the toss. With chasers to the fore at this venue it seems a risk to ignore the bias. So wait until the flip before playing.
The Wade-Short opening axis in the Bash has been hugely destructive. It makes sense for Australia to try it out. Sportsbook have not spotted its potential and rate Wade at 17s for top Australia bat. It’s wrong, of course. Wade has excellent form at the SCG, averaging 34 and striking at 140. Short is 5/2.
KL Rahul copped again as a top bat winner for India in game one. He is 11/4 for a repeat. We note Shubman Gill’s 9/2. He probably won’t play but if India want to experiment by dropping Shikhar Dhawan, then he will almost certainly open.
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