Four-time World Cup winner Australia faces an uphill task in its bid to replace India at the top of the Reliance ODI rankings list. With India having 123 points and Australia 115, Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men need to win just two matches to hold on to their No. 1 status while George Bailey’s team has to beat India in six matches of the seven-game ODI series to become the numero uno.
The odds are stacked against Australia as the highly-gifted Indian side’s home record has been exemplary in recent times. On the other hand, the Aussies have only once notched up a 6-1 victory — against England almost three years ago. Back then, Australia had the resources to rout England, but the present team, led by Bailey, will have to pull off a miracle in order to retain the top spot it surrendered after July 2012.
Australia’s main players in that thumping 6-1 win against England were Shane Watson, David Hussey, Michael Clarke, Brad Haddin, Cameron White, Brett Lee, Doug Bollinger and Steve Smith. Bailey’s squad, however, lacks the depth and experience.
In a home series earlier this year, Australia whitewashed the West Indies 5-0, but with the conditions in India so different and the home team so rich in talent, Australia would find it difficult to outwit Dhoni’s men.
At their first interaction with the media in Mumbai, coach Steve Rixon and Bailey touched upon the subject of regularly competing with India for the top honours in the ICC rankings list.
“It is not just a series, but a chance to be No. 1 in the world. So, it is very important to the players, coaching staff and Cricket Australia. At the end of the day, we want to sit back and be part of the number one side,’’ said Rixon.
Rixon, who has worked with Chennai Super Kings and Dhoni, said it was an advantage knowing some of the Indian players, but added that it was more important to combat and excel against them. The recent Champions League T20 was a good experience as five Aussies figured in the final.
Reacting to Australia’s statements, Dhoni said at Rajkot that India had performed well in the last six months despite not fielding some of its top players.
“They can look at 7-0, but it’s not about what we are looking at, it’s about how well we do on the field. I think they have got a very good side, but we have also played good cricket.
“If you see the last six months, we have played really good cricket,” said Dhoni, referring to India’s ICC Champions Trophy triumph, tri-nation series win in the West Indies and the 5-0 victory against host Zimbabwe.
India’s convincing six-wicket win in the Twenty20 game at Rajkot gave ample evidence of the firepower it possesses.
The 50-over format is a different ball game and the Australians would not be found wanting when it comes to competing and even winning a few matches.
The matches will begin at 1.30 p.m. in order to lessen the dew effect, especially at Cuttack and Ranchi.