India v Australia
Sunday 24 February, 13:30
Zampa and Chahal to the fore
Adam Zampa should be emboldened by the feelgood vibe at the venue for game one (full match preview here). He has a tremendous record there, twice ripping through batting line-ups for the defunct Rising Pune Supergiants in 2016.
Against Delhi Daredevils he claimed three for 21 and a few games before that in the same tournament he razed Sunrisers Hyderabad with an astonishing six-wicket haul. Pune did not do much rising that day, though. They fell short in a chase of 138.
With Ravi Ashwin having knocked over Sri Lanka in the one T20 international, it is fair to expect there to be grip and bite for Zampa again. So we have to delve into the stats behind his quote of 3/1 (Sportsbook) to be top Australia wicket-taker.
The good news is that Zampa is Australia's leading-wicket taker in the last two years. Caveat: of those who are in the squad. AJ Tye and Billy Stanlake are by far and away the most dangerous. Tye has 32 wickets in 21 at a strike rate of 13, Stanlake 25 in 16 at 14. Zampa has 11 in 11 at a rate of a wicket every 19.
In terms of strike rates, Zampa begins to suffer against the pacers who have travelled. Jason Behrendorff is most lethal at 12 followed by Nathan Coulter-Nile (16) and Jhye Richardson (17). Yet even though Zampa is joint-jolly alongside Kane Richardson, Pat Cummins (one game in the study period) and Coulter-Nile, don't forget the surface should suit him better.
But that leads us to the value pick. The best strike rate of any Aussie in the last two years belongs to Glenn Maxwell at 11.3. With him expected to get a bowl on a helpful wicket there are worse bets than him at a massive 9/1. That's a point bigger than he should be on career hit rate in this market. Zampa is a point shorter than he should be.
Sportsbooks are a bit behind to provide top India wicket-taker prices but it is fair to say they will make one of Jasprit Bumrah or Yuz Chahal favourite in line with the industry, going 5/2 and 3/1. Chahal is the main threat in the absence of Kuldeep Yadav and we're keen to get with him.
With a 30% hit rate and leading the way (in betting without Kuldeep) in the last two years, the 5/2 would still be acceptable. But our guess is that he'll be second jolly.
The sixes market paid dividends for us when these sides met at the end of last year. India were underrated and took the series 2-1 on sixes match bets. It's not so clear cut this time, however, with India 5/6 favourites to hit most maximums.
On averages over the last two years, India have an edge hitting 6.3 per game to Australia's 5.4. However, that figure dips to 5.6 for India on their own soil. On the road, Australia might be eating their Shredded Wheat because they average 6.6 per game. That makes them a tempting bet at 7/5. Still, an average of four sixes per game for them In India bring us back down to earth.