India v Australia
Friday 8 March, 08:00
There is one batsman who will line up in Ranchi who has a win percentage of 45% in the last two years on his team's top-bat market. Who do you think it is?
Well, surely it's the modern-day deity, Virat Kohli, who notched again last time out with a century in Nagpur? Nope. Okay, maybe Rohit Sharma then who actually tops more often that the great man? Not him either. Aaron Finch, then? He may be on a poor run of form but he was tearing up attacks about a year ago? No. It's Shaun Marsh.
We were surprised too. Marsh is something of a forgotten man of Australian cricket. After he destroyed England Down Under in the last Ashes series it was supposed to be a coming of age moment. But injury and form problems have seen him in and out of the national side.
In the last two years Marsh has only played 11 ODI. But his worth to Australian batting is highlighted perfectly by the fact that he is only 245 runs behind Finch at the top of the run lists in that study period. Finch has played 11 more matches.
It is during those 11 innings that Marsh has proven that he is their Mr Reliable. He top scored in four of them, including a terrific 131 against India in Adelaide in January. It came off 123 balls with 11 fours and three sixes.
Unfortunately it's not a well-remembered knock because Australia failed to defend 298 with Virat Kohli's 104 trumping Marsh. That rather sums up Marsh's career. He still has the air of a nearly man. When he does produce he is quickly eclipsed. And then he's out of the side for some reason.
Despite debuting in 2008 Marsh has managed only 64 games for Australia, which is a poor return. With a career average of 42, however, and a strike rate of 82, his numbers suggest he should have played more.
At the moment he is regarded as their potential saviour in this series. With big runs, he will go into the World Cup as their main man. And by Jove do they need one. Australia do not want the returns of Messrs Smith and Warner to be trumpeted. The man on the white steed should have dismounted and be in the bar with a celebratory drink (orange juice, naturally).
Betfair Sportsbook go 7/2 that Marsh top scores. Clearly on his hit rate that is value. With Finch, who has the same number of 'wins' in twice the time, enduring a torrid time with the bat he may not have much to beat. It's now one fifty in 27 internationals for the big man.
On career form, Marsh's value holds. There's a 0.8% edge in our favour. Finch has an edge too but the 4/1 is a fair reflection of the rut he is in. We recognise the dangers that Marcus Stoinis and Glenn Maxwell pose but it is hard to make a case for them at 7/2 and 13/2 respectively.