India and Australia will kick off ODI leg of the “Tendulkar Tribute” tour in Pune, a few hours from now. One of the many parameters for the Tendulkar time-line will be how times have changed since the late 90s and early 2000s when INDulkar [copyright @ Sportz Cosmos] used to wage single-handed battles against the greatest team of his generation. During those times Australia was the No.1 team, unofficial ofcourse since the rankings came into being only recently. Guess who is the no.1 in ODIs today? The men in blue, of course and by a considerable margin, one must say.
Australia will have to beat India by atleast a 6-1 margin to push India off the No.1 ranking. I don’t know about the Aussie fans, but I am not holding my breath on that one. The curtain raiser in Rajkot was quite an action-packed one and a very good indicator of what we can expect from the two power houses in Cricket. As is the case in the sub-continent, batsmen will make merry and bowlers will be restricted to the side-act. Australia has a very good team that has players who are more in-tune with conditions in the sub-continent than other Australian teams in the times that have gone by. We can all thank the much maligned but wonderfully captivating Indian Premier League and Champions League for that.
They have batsmen like Finch and Maxwell who are very much at home in Indian conditions and with Watson and Bailey to support them, their batting looks fairly settled and very threatening. Their bowling looks impressive on the fast bowling front, but what about spin which will be the trump card, Ace and King in Indian conditions? This is where Australians will be hurt the most. India is served very well on the spin front with Ashwin and Jadeja as front line options and Yuvraj Singh to back them up.
Indian batting looks more and more menacing with every passing day. Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni. Phew! and we still have not got to Sir Ravindra Jadeja and Ashwin who is doing a good amount of damage with the bat, himself. Think about this – Ajinkya Rahane and Ambati Rayudu cannot find a place in the side despite being in great form themselves. Sehwag and Gambhir are always in the reckoning. Manoj Tiwary, Yousuf Pathan, Murali Vijay, Pujara are not even in the top 10 prospects – that is how crowded the batting space is.
Prediction: Australians will throw everything they got at India, but MS Dhoni’s clinically sharp ODI team will not give even an inch without the fight that their skipper seems to have instilled into the DNA of every player in the team. 5-2 in India’s favour!