If there’s one thing that Australia need now, more than ever, it’s a completely pointless ODI series to distract them from their Ashes preparations. Unfortunately, if there’s one thing Cricket Australia need now it’s filthy lucre, hence those poor overworked players have been shunted off to play one T20 – a match so pointless that even we couldn’t be arsed to watch it (although apparently Australia lost) – and seven ODIs. Captain Clarke is already knackered, but how many players will join him as the tourists seek the six wins they need to return to the top of the ODI rankings?
Given that (with the honorable exception of Steven Peter Devereux Smith) Australia’s last visit saw them descend into a farce worthy of Rentaghost, we’re not exactly rushing to back them with whatever pocket change we have left after our little holiday. A holiday during which the work experience boy very nearly touched a lady’s breast, putting it among the more successful holidays of recent years, a fact we’re only really adding to pad out this otherwise dangerously brief paragraph.
In a damning indictment of both us and the powers of gin, we originally thought that India’s last ODI had been the Champions Trophy final. Turns out that they’ve actually played a tri-nation series with the West Indies and Sri Lanka, plus a five match series against Zimbabwe since then. So they’re not exactly short of match practice. And if they can overcome the state of national mourning brought on by Sachin Tendulkar’s retirement, they’ll start the series as massive favourites, having won their last eight matches.
The thing we’re most looking forward to is, of course, seeing Shikhar Dhawan’s moustache, which deserves its own spinoff show, plus Ravi Jadeja taking an absolute bucket of wickets with his mixture of slow straight ones that don’t turn and slow straight ones that turn even less. It’s basically a combination perfectly designed to make Australians look foolish.
There’s no Devereux in the Australian squad, so they’re blatantly not even trying. George Bailey’s captaincy might be the most significant thing to come out of the series, with the word on the street being that Michael Clarke’s back problems could keep him out of the Ashes altogether. Beyond that there’s not much of interest in the Australian squad; Glenn Maxwell and Moises Henriques can continue to prove that they’re not really that hot at this cricket malarkey, while Mitchell Johnson has a great opportunity to bowl himself back out of form. And Clint McKay will probably continue to grunt like Maria Sharapova after a night on the cigars.
A bowling attack featuring Nathan Coulter-Nile, James Faulkener and Xavier Doherty doesn’t exactly sound all that intimidating, so it’s basically down to Shane Watson to win at least five matches single-handedly. While still getting all his homework done.
India to win 7-0. Or maybe 6-1. Either way Australia to be rightly punished by the cricketing gods for not having Devereux in their squad. The action starts at 9am on Sunday (UK time) in the glittering palace of wonder that is Pune. If we bother to set our alarm, we’ll be tweeting as the game progresses @51allout.