Ed Hawkins previews the final T20 of the series from Sydney on Tuesday with India enjoying an unassailable lead over Australia...
"Man for man, India are superior but the toss bias gives the hosts a chance here and we can see them trading as favourites going after a score..."
Australia v India
Tuesday 8 December 08.10
TV: live on BT Sport
There are few sporting teams in the world who can cope with the absence of star players so it is no surprise that without Aaron Finch, David Warner, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazelwood, Ashton Agar and Mitchell Starc, Australia find themselves two-down with one to play.
But they could be a bit smarter with their balance. Marcus Stoinis batting at number six? Surely he should be opening the batting? And at the very least he should be batting ahead of Moises Henriques.
The bowling is decidedly second-string and India made relatively light work of the stiff chase of 194 in Canberra. But there are no changes they can make to improve the situation.
Probable XI Wade, Short, Smith, Maxwell, Henriques, Stoinis, Sams, Abbott, Tye, Swepson, Zampa
India can experiment in game three - but they may not want to. They have Australia under the pump and the chance of a whitewash in tough, alien conditions for tourists does not come along very often.
Hardik Pandya was the star of game two. And he is the star of the white-ball series. On different wickets and big grounds, he has proved he is the real deal. Perhaps it is no coincidence that India are unassailable and Hardik is the one finisher who knows his role inside out on either side.
The skill and nerve shown by Thangarasu Natarajan, who was brilliant for Sunrisers in the IPL, has meant Jasprit Bumrah can put his feet up before the Test series. Ravi Jadeja could come back into the XI after a concussion scare, possibly for Deepak Chahar. If he does that would mean India's balance was vastly superior.
Another possible change is Shikhar Dhawan standing aside to give Mayank Agarwal a try as opener.
Possible XI Rahul, Dhawan, Kohli, Samson, Iyer, Pandya, Jadeja, Sundar, Chahal, Thakur, Natarajan
Here are the first-innings scores (1-2 denote match won by side batting first or second, most recent first) at the SCG in the four T20 internationals in the last four years: 194-2/117-2/164-2/107-no result. So India have chased 194 and 165 as the venue's reputation for being bias towards the side batting second continued. In the Bash it has been at around the 60% mark, although the average score has been in the 150s.
Australia need to chase
Australia are 2.166/5 and India 1.834/5. Man for man, India are superior but the toss bias gives the hosts a chance here and we can well see them trading as favourites going after a score.
The key for the hosts is to manage those bowling stocks. Daniel Sams has been pricey at the death so the smart move may be to try Sean Abbott. It could also pay to mix up the attack with an over here or there for Stoinis, Henriques, Glenn Maxwell and D'Arcy Short.
Agarwal gets a 4/1 quote from Sportsbook for top India bat. If he plays, he opens. If he doesn't, you get your money back. So it seems a risk-free value wager because rarely is an opener priced at 4s. Kohli is 3/1 and looks in great touch while Hardik is rated at 6/1.
With Bumrah unlikely to feature, the India top bowler market is awash with value. Sportsbook go 13/5. Natarajan is the main man now at 10/3 while Deepak Chahar has been hugely consistent in the first powerplay. He is 4/1.
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. To include year end COB Best Bets