DUAL INTERVIEW with Johns and Charbel – IND tour of AUS – Limited-overs
What will the pitch and conditions be like in Sydney and Canberra as the ODI and T20 series will be happening in these two venues?
Johns – There won’t be much changes in pitches in Australia, the ball will always come on to the bat nicely and with true bounce. Any batsman in the world will favour their chances to make it big in this country.
Charbel – The pitches in Sydney and Canberra are historically two of the slower pitches in Australia. But, given very little cricket has been played on these grounds this year, and given the importance of seeing good cricket, we can expect good batting surfaces early on. It will be interesting to see whether the square at the Sydney Cricket Ground slows down after the first ODI, with the second ODI two days later.
Australia played limited-overs against England two months ago, can this be an advantage against India who played their last limited-overs fixture in February?
Johns – Don’t think so, many of them played IPL as ODI format in UAE so they had a good preparation for this series.
Charbel – Yes, this can be an advantage. Australia have had a taste of limited-overs cricket against quality opposition in recent times and know what they improve on. However, Australia will still need to click into gear as quickly as possible given that players have either been playing T20 cricket (IPL) or four-day cricket (Sheffield Shield).
This applies even more to India as it has been so long since they have played a LOI. Not having Rohit Sharma’s experience is a blow. Virat Kohli’s team will need to have a discussion on what went well for them back in February and look to implement those aspects of their game quickly in a three-match ODI series.
Virat Kohli is back in the Indian jersey after a long time, and there is a lot of hype for him already, how will he perform with the white ball in your view?
Johns – Wherever Kohli goes there will be hype but I don’t think it will affect him too much, he has been used to this for the last few years and in ODI format he is a great and knows how to do the talking with the bat when the match is on.
Charbel – Virat Kohli will be a crucial wicket as always, especially in white-ball cricket. I’m backing him to perform well. His numbers speak for themselves. He is simply remarkable in ODI cricket, and even though he hasn’t played this format for a while, his mindset of working hard and converting a start will hold him in good stead. Amazing player.
Rohit Sharma has been rested for the limited-overs fixture, do you think they will go with Mayank Agarwal or Prithvi Shaw for the opening slot with Shikhar Dhawan or will it be KL Rahul?
Johns – KL has sealed his spot at 5 in ODI so I don’t think they will change that position. With Rohit rested, Mayank will open with Dhawan, he has been in such fine form for India A, Karnataka and last IPL season.
Charbel – KL Rahul was excellent at number five against Australia earlier this year. India should persist with him there, and reward Mayank Agarwal for his magnificent IPL 2020 campaign.
For Australia, the top 4 is settled with Finch and Warner as openers and Smith and Labuschagne next to bat, can the lower middle order help the team when needed?
Johns – Middle & lower order has been Australia’s issue forever in limited-overs and that was one of the reasons why they failed to get over the line on many occasions. With Labuschagne coming at 4, it has closed down to some extent but the consistency of Maxwell, Carey, Stoinis worries them a lot. They can try out Josh Phillipe as an option for looking into World Cup 2023.
Charbel – The middle order was a big question for Australia during their tour of England, and remains so now. Interestingly, the middle order helped win the first and third ODI’s against England two months ago, but also collapsed badly to lose the second ODI. So, the middle order showed they can help the team when needed, but consistency remains an issue.
Glenn Maxwell had a poor IPL, so this is an important series for him. He and Alex Carey orchestrated a miracle for Australia in their last ODI against England (both scored hundreds), so they will be key whether they are required to rescue or finish the innings. Marcus Stoinis showed some promising signs at times in the middle order in IPL 2020, and he will need to transfer that form over to the ODI’s and T20Is.
Mitchell Starc has been a touch expensive with the ball this year in limited-overs, how will he perform in this series in your view?
Johns – Starc has played a couple of Shield games and he will be fresh to go as many of them might be tired after the long bubble in IPL, he will be looking to make a sudden impact and take that form into all-important Test series.
Charbel – The fact that Mitchell Starc has chosen to play in the Big Bash League this season suggests he wants to nail his white-ball form. He may have been expensive, but his ability to take wickets in the powerplay and death overs is key for Australia. If Australia backs Starc and enables him to perform, he will produce the goods.
How crucial is Adam Zampa for Australia in the middle overs?
Johns – Adam Zampa has lots of success against India over the years, he has turned into one of the best spinners in limited-overs. With Kohli-Iyer-Rahul in the middle order, he has a big job ahead to get wickets in regular intervals and take the game away as all these have given lots of headache for Australia in the last ODI series in January.
Charbel – Very crucial. You need to make inroads into India’s quality top six, and Zampa will be key to that. He has been superb in ODI’s since a disappointing World Cup by his standards, with 20 scalps in his last 10 ODI’s.
Also, he has a good record vs Virat Kohli, which will be an interesting battle again.
Few words for the Indian spinners?
Johns – India will be going with Yuzi Chahal as the only spinner along with Ravi Jadeja. If Hardik can bowl it will give lots of flexibility to the lineup or else it will be added pressure for Jadeja to contain runs and Chahal to pick wickets and make inroads of this fragile Australia middle & lower order.
Charbel – Massive respect for Yuzvendra Chahal. He is class. His control and variations are superb. In India’s last tour of Australia (2019), Chahal showed why he should be picked in every game by taking six wickets at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Kuldeep Yadav has fallen away somewhat over the past 12-18 months. Ravindra Jadeja could have a key role to play in keeping things steady.
Jasprit Bumrah will continue to be a headache for batsmen, and in this instance Australian batsmen, few words on him?
Johns – Jasprit Bumrah was in his ruthless form in the IPL, he will be just too hot to handle for Australian lower order in the series so the top order of Australia need to take him on and apply pressure back to Bumrah and make him feel the heat. The only way Australia can stop Bumrah.
Charbel – Special bowler. I wrote a piece about him last year, showing just how special he his. It is such a great thing to have an asset like Bumrah in your team. Whenever a team is setting or chasing a score, you need to always consider the amount of overs Bumrah has and try to score off the other bowlers. Australia will have to be at their best to tackle him.
What will the lineups of both the teams look like, starting from India?
Johns – India – Agarwal, Dhawan, Kohli, Iyer, Rahul, Hardik, Jadeja, Chahal, Bumrah, Shami, Saini.
Australia – Warner, Finch, Smith, Labuschagne, Carey, Maxwell, Stoinis, Zampa, Hazelwood, Starc, Cummins
Charbel – If India wishes to play Mayank Agarwal, then they may look at playing Shardul Thakur for additional batting cover down the order.
India XI: 1. Shikhar Dhawan, 2. Mayank Agarwal, 3. Virat Kohli ©, 4. Shreyas Iyer, 5. KL Rahul (wk), 6. Hardik Pandya, 7. Ravindra Jadeja, 8. Shardul Thakur, 9. Mohammed Shami, 10. Yuzvendra Chahal, 11. Jasprit Bumrah
Johns – Australia – Warner, Finch, Smith, Labuschagne, Carey, Maxwell, Stoinis, Zampa, Hazelwood, Starc, Cummins
Charbel – The exciting Cameron Green is in the squad and is a chance of playing. But, he will have to bowl a decent amount of overs in ODI’s according to Justin Langer, so he could be eased into later games.
Australia XI: 1. Aaron Finch ©, 2. David Warner, 3. Steve Smith, 4. Marnus Labuschagne, 5. Marcus Stoinis, 6. Alex Carey (wk), 7. Glenn Maxwell, 8. Pat Cummins, 9. Mitchell Starc, 10. Josh Hazlewood, 11. Adam Zampa
Who are the key players for India and Australia?
Johns – India – Kohli & Bumrah and for Australia – Warner & Cummins
Charbel – Key players for India: Shreyas Iyer can nail down that all-important number four slot for India in ODI’s. Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Yuzvendra Chahal will be key in leading the attack.
Key players for Australia: Marcus Stoinis and Glenn Maxwell need to be more reliable in the middle order. They will need to either rescue an innings or finish well. Also, Adam Zampa in the middle overs and Mitchell Starc at the death will be key for Australia.