India v Australia ODIs: Match-ups to watch out for in clash: From Rohit v Warner to Bumrah v Starc
The two teams will not only be looking to go one up against each other in the ODI series, but there will be plenty of smaller battles within the big war.
Rohit Sharma v David Warner
Rohit Sharma finished as the top ODI run-scorer in 2019 with 1490 runs from 27 innings at 57.30 and a strike rate of almost 90. This included 7 centuries, along with 5 that came in the ODI World Cup, and 6 half-centuries.
His Australian opening counterpart, David Warner, the second-highest run-scorer at the 2019 ODI World Cup, had the disadvantage of missing a lot of matches last year due to his ball tampering ban. But, in the 10 World Cup matches that he played, Warner scored 647 runs, including three centuries and three half-centuries at an imperious average of 71.8 and a strike rate of around 90 as well.
After his struggles in Ashes 2019, Warner has hit a purple patch and it would be interesting to see which of the two openers have the last laugh in getting their teams off to advantageous starts.
Virat Kohli v Steve Smith
With Marnus Labuschagne coming into the Australian ODI setup on the back of his sheer load of runs in red-ball cricket and the downslide of Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith has been promoted at one drop in the Australian batting line-up. Like Warner, Smith missed out on a lot of ODI cricket in 2019 but did a fine job at the World Cup, where he struck four half-centuries, which pulled the Aussies out of deep holes on a couple of occasions.
Like Smith, Kohli did not have any century to show for in the World Cup, but he scored 5 half-centuries at an average of over 55. He was also the second highest run-scorer in 2019 with an average of almost 60.
Steve Smith may no longer be the captain of his team, but he still has a presence about him. Don't be surprised if the two finish the series as top run-scorers for their respective teams.
Ravindra Jadeja v Ashton Agar
Australia have gone through some tactical changes since the World Cup. One among them is replacing pace bowling all-rounder Marcus Stoinis, who by the way is scoring runs by heaps in the ongoing Big Bash League, and replacing him with left-arm spinning all-rounder Ashton Agar. Agar has done a fine job in T20s and for the Australian white-ball side. He is expected to have a major impact on the series.
An injury to Hardik Pandya means that India have to play Ravindra Jadeja for his handy batting. Jadeja has won the team a couple of games of late and will be critical for the fortunes of Team India in this series as well.
Mohammad Shami v Pat Cummins
If Rohit Sharma was the top ODI run scorer in 2019, Mohammad Shami was the highest ODI wicket-taker last year. Shami picked up 42 wickets from 21 matches at an average of 22.64 and an economy of 5.36. This included his 14 wickets in the World Cup, despite getting a chance in only four games and the hat-trick against Afghanistan.
Likewise, Pat Cummins played a pivotal role for his team with 14 wickets in the World Cup. His major role was to keep the runs down as he did by conceding at an economy of less than 5. Cummins picked up 31 wickets in 2019 at an average of a tick over 20 and would play a major role in the series.
Jasprit Bumrah v Mitchell Starc
While Shami and Cummins are consistent performers, Jasprit Bumrah and Mitchell Starc are that, and a lot more. The two bring in an x-factor and are capable of changing the face of the match both at the start of the innings and at the death.
Mitchell Starc, for the second consecutive time, was the top wicket-taker in the ODI World Cup, with 27 wickets from 10 games at an average of 18.59 and an economy of 5.43, including two 5-wicket hauls.
Jasprit Bumrah picked up two wickets per game in the World Cup. In the entire year, Bumrah bagged 25 wickets from 14 games. His return after injury and his match-up against Starc is one of the major selling points of the series.
©Cricket World 2020