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Rahul, Chahal vs Zampa & Other Key Numbers Ahead of India-Aus ODIs

Australia have announced pretty much their first-choice team for the series and don’t have any major worries.

Updated
Cricket
5 min read
Aaron Finch and Virat Kohli.
i

On Friday, 27 November 2020, when the Indian team steps onto the turf at the Sydney Cricket Ground, it will not only mark Team India's return to international cricket following the forced prolonged absence caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, but it will also be their debut in the newly launched ICC World Cup Super League.

Looking back at the ODIs played at the Sydney Cricket Ground, I was taken aback by Team India's disappointing record at the venue. Over the years, Team India has played a total of 20 ODIs at the venue, winning only a fourth of the matches, and losing 14 others.

Venue record not encouraging: In matches against hosts Australia, Team India’s record at the SCG reads: won - 2 and lost- 14. Team India’s record in ODIs at the Manuka Oval in Canberra – the venue for the 3rd ODI – is: Played - 2, Lost - 2!
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Despite this series marking the return of the Men in Blue, there can be no reasons to expect a poor showing. Yes, Rohit Sharma, one of the world's top batsmen in white ball cricket will be missing from the Indian team, but there's no dearth of talent in the Indian squad.

The players are also heading into the series at the back of a competitive Indian Premier League season, and though the players have had to undergo quarantine upon arrival in Australia, they have been afforded the luxury of being permitted to train outdoors. One should therefore expect the Indian players to hit the ground running.

It will be interesting to see how the Indian team management addresses the complexities with regards to the team combination. With Hardik Pandya unlikely to bowl, Team India must get the balance right; they need six batsmen (including the wicket-keeper) and five specialist bowlers, while also ensuring there's enough experience across roles.

Will they pair Mayank Agarwal with Shikhar Dhawan at the top and get KL Rahul to bat in the middle order, or will they pair KL Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan at the top, and slot Manish Pandey in the middle order?

Possible batting line-up combinations

Combination 1: Shikhar Dhawan, Mayank Agarwal, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul (wk), Hardik Pandya

Combination 2: Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul (wk), Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya

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Just reading the two combinations above, the second combination looks better. KL Rahul opening the innings gives the team management the option to field Manish Pandey in the middle order - a player with plenty of experience and a proven finisher.

Whichever opening pair the team fields, the Indian team management will expect Shikhar Dhawan to bat freely just like he did in the back half of the IPL; the left-hander has dominated the Australians in recent times, and given this could be his last tour Down Under, he will want to make the most of the good surfaces Australia has generally dished out.

Whichever opening pair the team fields, the Indian team management will expect Shikhar Dhawan to bat freely.
Whichever opening pair the team fields, the Indian team management will expect Shikhar Dhawan to bat freely.
(Image: Quint)

Team India will also expect a lot out of KL Rahul irrespective of which role he is given. The Bangalore lad, elevated as the team's vice-captain, was in scintillating form in the IPL and bagged the Orange Cap for being the highest run-getter in the competition. The 28-year-old has been in sensational form in recent times, particularly in white ball cricket, as can be seen in the numbers.

Rahul, Chahal vs Zampa & Other Key Numbers Ahead of India-Aus ODIs
(Image: Quint)
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Virat Kohli, the number-one ranked batsman in ODIs, too will be keen to stamp his authority. The 32-year old had an underwhelming IPL, but in Australia one can expect him to enjoy the pace and bounce the pitches offer - just like he did on the previous two tours.

Rahul, Chahal vs Zampa & Other Key Numbers Ahead of India-Aus ODIs
(Image: Quint)

Australia Begin as Favourites

Australia have announced pretty-much their first-choice team for the series and do not have any major worries with regards to the combination.

Australia’s likely XI

David Warner, Aaron Finch, Steve Smith, Marnus Labuschagne, Glenn Maxwell, Alex Carey, Marcus Stoinis, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Adam Zampa, Josh Hazlewood

David Warner and Aaron Finch are among the most feared opening pairs in one-day cricket, and given their success against India, they could have already given the Indian bowlers and the team analysts some sleepless nights.

Rahul, Chahal vs Zampa & Other Key Numbers Ahead of India-Aus ODIs
(Image: Quint)
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Though Steve Smith has dropped to number 21 in the ICC rankings for batsmen in one-day cricket, he is still considered among the best in the world. He loves playing against India too, in Australia (batting average 52.40), and at the SCG (batting average 53.33)!

Rahul, Chahal vs Zampa & Other Key Numbers Ahead of India-Aus ODIs
(Image: Quint)

For the record, Steve Smith's scores in his last 3 ODI innings against India: 131 (132 balls), 98 (102 balls) and 69 (70 balls). Smith has scored a half-century in each of the 3 ODIs he has played at the Manuka Oval in Canberra, the venue for the 3rd ODI

On the bowling front, there are four who feature in the top ten of the ICC rankings for ODI bowlers. Jasprit Bumrah (2nd) will be keen to regain his position at the top of the rankings, while Pat Cummins (6th), Josh Hazlewood (7th) and Mitchell Starc (10th) will hold the key to Australia's success.

The Sydney Cricket Ground was where it all began for Jasprit Bumrah; In January 2016, he made his ODI debut against Australia and opened his account with the wicket of Steve Smith (and added the scalp of James Faulkner to finish with figures of 10-0-40-2).

Rahul, Chahal vs Zampa & Other Key Numbers Ahead of India-Aus ODIs
(Image: Quint)

Historically, the leg-spinners - Adam Zampa for Australia and Yuzvendra Chahal for India - have caused plenty of damage in matches between the two sides. Look out for Adam Zampa v Virat Kohli (5 dismissals previously) and Yuzvendra Chahal v Glenn Maxwell (4 dismissals so far)!

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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