Ed Hawkins previews the decider from the MCG on early Friday with the series tied at 1-1 and thinks it will be a tight contest...
"India are, of course, chasers supreme and they will say that they were always in control, despite it going to the last over"
Australia v India
Friday 18 January 03:20
TV: live on BT Sport
Aussies doing okay
Australia were denied an unassailable, not to mention surprising, 2-0 lead in defeat by six wickets at Adelaide. It sounded comprehensive but for a team on such a chronic run there was plenty to encourage.
For a start there was a welcome return to form from Shaun Marsh who hit a superb 131 and a lovely cameo from Glenn Maxwell at No 7. There was even a six from the bat of Nathan Lyon. The shuffling of their batting pack has been controversial and although it is arguable that the 298 they posted was still below the modern-day par, it would be unfair to judge too early.
Their bowling group impressed again, too. Jhye Richardson and Jason Behrendorff could well be giving the selectors a significant headache with Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood rested. It looks unlikely that all three will waltz back into the XI.
Richardson, in particular, earned appreciative nods. His economy rate was decent at 5.9. A mention too for Marcus Stoinis and Glenn Maxwell who kept Australia in the fight. Some teams might reckon one or both are a weak link. With all the parts beginning to work nicely, it seems unlikely Australia will make any changes.
Before game two we opined India's complacency and demanded they buck up. Did they go full tilt or were they still a little laconic about things in Adelaide then?
Well, Bhuv Kumar and Mohammad Shami did the required graft. Bhuvi claimed four wickets at 4.5 an over and Shami three at 5.8. It was stellar stuff from the opening pair. But Mohammed Siraj is a doubtul performer at this level and his spot in the team would ordinarily be taken by Jasprit Bumrah.
His ten overs for 76 probably made the game closer than it should have been and there is an argument for squeezing the Aussies with spin by including Yuz Chahal alongside Kuldeep Yadav and Ravi Jadeja.
India are, of course, chasers supreme and they will say that they were always in control, despite it going to the last over. There would have been hearts in mouths, though as MS Dhoni, produced a classic. Who thought he still had it in him (whisper it, not us).
The Virat Kohli masterclass was almost a sideshow. As it should be. After stroking a sublime 104 he will be on the naughty step for failing to finish the job when being snaffled by Maxwell off the excellent Richardson.
One for the chasers?
The last five first-innings scores at the MCG (1-2 denotes match won by side batting first or second, most recent first) read: 304-2/220-2/264-1/295-2/183-2. Not much return for the side batting first, then. Five-year form irons out the toss bias with a 5/6 split in favour of the chaser. However, there's a less-than 20% hit rate for teams batting first in the Big Bash over four years so there's an argument that the wide open space of the 'G make it tricky for teams to defend.
India were one of those teams. They couldn't keep on top of the rate after posting 295 in 2016. Of their bowling attack, only Jadeja survives. That might not be a good thing as experience of the outfield is useful.
Traders alerted to home price
India's win last time out has ensured their price has taken a hit. They are now no better than [1.64], down from [1.72] for Adelaide.
And that will have to mean our interest in them ends. We only get involved in very good things at those odds, not to mention being uncomfortable about advising such short prices. It's not quite the gift punters are looking for.
The Aussies are [2.52] and we can certainly see some room in their number for a trade even if they have to defend again. They will confident of breaking up that vaunted front three from India before they get too much of a handle on proceedings. Don't be surprised to see them trading as short favourites.
Finch needs a score
Maxwell has good memories of this ground and India. It was he who inspired Australia to that win in 2016, whacking 96 off 83 balls to turn the game on its head. Australia were in the mire at 215 for six. He gets an 8s quote from Betfair Sportsbook. He is supposed to be enjoying a floating role in the order but bear in mind he is slated for No 7. On that grounds you will probably want more bang for your buck.
Marsh is 4/1 and got a half-century in the same game. Aaron Finch, in dire need of a score, got a ton against England on the ground this time last year. He is 10/3 jolly.
Kohli ground form
Kohli will be happy to be back also. He was a centurion in that clash three years ago. He was effortless in Adelaide and looked in complete control throughout. He is 23/10 for a top-bat effort for India. That's actually too skinny on the number of times he cops. There's nothing wrong with Rohit Sharma at 11/4. Likewise Shikhar Dhawan at 4s will reckon it's his turn.
Ed Hawkins P-L
Based only on available prices. Does not include back-to-lay in-running match advice or commission rate. Figures 2013-2016 on 1pt level stakes. New points system (0.5pt-5) introduced for 2017. Includes Hawk-Eye stats column p-l
Trade Australia from [2.5] to [1.8]