Boasting of some of the most consistent performers in international cricket, the Indian cricket team, over the years, has undeniably established its reputation as one of the strongest sides in the world. Whether it's strong batting line-up or clinical bowling unit, Team India continues to be a dominant force in the world of cricket.
Their consistency has been in display in the last eight months or so in what proved to be a dominant home season. Virat Kohli & Co began their packed home season, taking on South Africa who did well to draw the T20I series 1-1. But, the Indian brigade didn't let the Proteas settle down in the Tests where they wrapped the series up 3-0 after inflicting consecutive innings defeat on the visitors in the last two matches.
Continuing their fine run, the 'Men in Blue' gave a similar treatment to Bangladesh who lost the Test series 2-0 before suffering another 2-1 heartache in the T20Is. The touring West Indies brigade was next in India's firing line as a rampant Kohli brigade clinched a 2-1 win in both the T20I and ODI series.
Ending 2019 on a winning note, India kickstarted the new year in a similar fashion when they locked horns with Sri Lanka. After the first T20I was washed off, Team India produced a convincing performance in the 2nd T20I to secure a seven-wicket win at Indore. The third and final T20I saw a similar script with the hosts dominating the proceedings, first, with the willow and, then, with the ball to seal a 78-run win and a 2-0 series triumph.
Team India has, more often than not, proved to be a tough nut to crack for the opposing sides in cricket. And, when the battle is in their own backyard, as witnessed in the past few months, they are generally unbeatable. But, such is the competitive edge in international cricket that nothing, not even a winning streak, is permanent. And, that's exactly what the touring Australian brigade must be thinking going into the three-match ODI series.
Australia will be full of confidence after an excellent World Cup and a great summer of Test cricket but India will be keen to redeem themselves from the last ODI series loss against Australia. Prediction: 2-1 Australia https://t.co/r5fIiLNs6Y— Ricky Ponting AO (@RickyPonting) January 12, 2020
Former Australian captain Ricky Ponting feels that his fellow countrymen will be able to get the better of India in their own backyard in what promises to be an exciting ODI series. "Australia will be full of confidence after an excellent World Cup and a great summer of Test cricket but India will be keen to redeem themselves from the last ODI series loss against Australia. Prediction: 2-1 Australia," Ponting said on Twitter during a Q&A session with the fans. But, can the Aussies really do it? Let's take a look at the possibilities.
First and foremost, going into the upcoming clash, the Australians find themselves in a similar situation, in a similar time of the year. Last February, India, coming off a fairly successful overseas tour, were gearing up to host Australia for two T20Is and a five-match ODI series. For a team that had upstaged Australia in their own backyard months before the series last year, India were undeniably favourites to once again come out on top.
However, contrary to popular perception, the hosts were undone by a strong showing from the Aussies who romped their way to a 2-0 win in T20Is. After securing a narrow three-wicket win in the first game, the Australians produced a brilliant batting performance to leave the hosts red-faced with a seven-wicket win in the 2nd T20I.
Embarrassed in the shortest format, Kohli & co came back strong in the ODI series, winning two consecutive games to strengthen their position. But, the Aussies were not the one to back down either as they replied to India's challenge with their own back-to-back victories in the next two matches. With the series evenly poised at 2-2, the series decider at Delhi saw India failing to chase a total of 272 runs. A 35-run loss in the fifth ODI eventually saw India losing the ODI series 3-2.
If Australia's sensational performance, in a tour that was initially expected to be futile, highlighted the chinks in India's armour at home, the fact that their 3-2 ODI series win was their first in this part of the world in a decade further showed what it meant for the touring team.
While the losses in T20I and ODI series last year would surely linger in the minds of the Indian players, the other worrying sign for the hosts is Australia's darting run in the recent months. The Australians are coming into the three-match ODI series on the back of a commanding performance at home where they whitewashed Pakistan and New Zealand in the Tests.
When you talk about relevance, the upcoming ODI series doesn't really carry much relevance. It's just a three-game affair, acting as a poorly placed punctuation mark in a season of T20 where most of the teams are busy fine-tuning their squads for the ultimate showdown, ICC World T20, Down Under this October. But, the challenge and competitive edge both India and Australia bring to the table makes this a short ODI series an exciting affair.
So, can India avenge their loss from last year in the upcoming series, or will it be Australia who'll, once again, spring in a surprise to leave the home fans in sheer disbelief? Well, that's a question which will get answered in days to come.