After two near-identical Australia wins in Sydney, the ODI series shifts to Canberra, but the change in scene may not necessarily bring about a change in template. If the SCG was all about bat first, bat big and win, the Manuka Oval’s ODI history is pretty much just that, on steroids.
The last seven games here have all been won by the side batting first, six of them while defending 320-plus totals. The last four first-innings totals here, in chronological order, are 372 for 2, 411 for 4, 348 for 8, and 378 for 5.
For all the talk about India’s team balance and the lack of penetration in their bowling, their failure to win the toss so far has also contributed to their results. But even if the coin continues to work against them in Canberra, there is a chance for a little more parity between the sides with David Warner and Pat Cummins missing.
Having already wrapped up the series, Australia may have pondered changes anyway. India might make a few too, not least with an eye on managing the workloads of Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami ahead of the Test series.
An opportunity could open up, therefore, for someone to step in and make a statement. India have now lost five ODIs in a row – their last such sequence, back in January 2016, also featured a string of toothless bowling displays in Australia. That sequence ended with a win in their final ODI of that tour, which featured an eye-catching display from a surprise ODI debutant by the name of Bumrah.
Australia (last five completed matches, most recent first): WWWLW
In the spotlight
Sean Abbott came back into Australia’s squad thanks to his red-hot form in the Sheffield Shield – 14 wickets in three matches at 17.92, and 261 runs at 130.50 including a maiden first-class hundred. Can he carry that form over into white-ball cricket?
Virat Kohli with his pace bowling group – Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah and Hardik Pandya Getty Images
He made bright starts in the first two ODIs but failed to kick on, and that can’t keep happening, especially on flat pitches like these, if Mayank Agarwal wants a long run in India’s ODI side. Currently, he has a strike rate of 103.61 from five ODIs, but a highest score of only 32. This could be his last opportunity in a while to show he can play bigger innings.
With Warner out, Australia could either swap in D’Arcy Short or Matthew Wade at the top of the order, or push Marnus Labuschagne up the order – he’s volunteered for the role – and hand Cameron Green an ODI debut. Judging by Aaron Finch’s pre-match words, the former option seems likelier. Sean Abbott, who has been in terrific form with ball and bat in the Sheffield Shield, looks set to replace Cummins and play his first ODI since 2014.
Australia (possible): 1 Aaron Finch (capt), 2 Matthew Wade/D’Arcy Short, 3 Steven Smith, 4 Marnus Labuschagne, 5 Moises Henriques, 6 Alex Carey (wk), 7 Glenn Maxwell, 8 Sean Abbott, 9 Mitchell Starc, 10 Adam Zampa, 11 Josh Hazlewood.
India could hand some of their fringe players a chance with the series already lost, but predicting their XI is never an easy task. Of those who haven’t featured yet, Kuldeep Yadav and Shardul Thakur seem likeliest to get a game.
India (possible): 1 Mayank Agarwal, 2 Shikhar Dhawan/Shubman Gill, 3 Virat Kohli (capt), 4 Shreyas Iyer/Manish Pandey/Sanju Samson, 5 KL Rahul (wk), 6 Hardik Pandya, 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 Shardul Thakur/Navdeep Saini, 9 & 10 two from Mohammed Shami/Jasprit Bumrah/T Natarajan, 11 Yuzvendra Chahal/Kuldeep Yadav
Pitch and conditions
The Manuka Oval has one of the flattest batting tracks in Australia, historically, as well as some of the longest boundaries. A warm day is forecast with a high of around 26 degrees Celsius.
Stats and trivia
Of all grounds to have hosted at least five ODIs in this century, the Manuka Oval has been the fastest-scoring, with an average ODI run rate of 6.36.
India won’t have happy memories from their last ODI in Canberra. They were 277 for 1 courtesy centuries from Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli, and needed 72 from 75 to win. But Dhawan’s wicket triggered an incredible collapse, the last nine wickets falling for 46 runs as Kane Richardson ran amok.
Kohli needs 23 runs to get to the 12,000 mark in ODIs. If he gets there on Wednesday, he will have reached the landmark in 242 innings. Sachin Tendulkar, the previous quickest to the mark, got there in 300 innings.
Mohammed Shami is two wickets away from 150 in ODIs.
“The wicket is so true that it’s got nice pace and bounce in it. And once you get in, you can really cash in. It’s a beautiful outfield. It’s a big ground, so you probably get more value for your shots through the gap. You pick up twos and threes more often than what you do on some smaller grounds. You can start to accumulate quick runs there. On the flip side, if you bowl well early with that extra pace and bounce on the wicket, you can do some damage. Both teams will obviously be looking to use that new ball really well.”
Aaron Finch on playing at Manuka Oval