India will start as the favourites especially after that pulsating win over Australia in the lone T20 game in Rajkot. The Australians had batted quite superbly to raise over 200 runs on the board, but the Indians, led by Yuvraj Singh, fairly strolled through to a win.
Yuvraj's innings in a winning comeback was heartening indeed and shows that the southpaw is ready for another exciting chapter in his cricketing career. What was clearly seen was the calmness that he brought to his batting and the measured way he responded to the challenge of scoring at more than 10 runs an over.
He is not only superbly physically fit but also in a great mental space, and that makes him an even more dangerous opponent.
He had company in Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the Indian skipper, who was quite content to give Yuvraj more of the strike, and they took India over the line much to the delight of the thousands who had turned up.
It was just the start that India were looking for in a fresh international season that will see them playing more overseas than in India. Of course, there is the second Test against the West Indies which will be Tendulkar’s 200th and last one for India, but after that, it will be looking to make the adjustment without the comforting presence of ‘The Master'.
That is why these one-day matches are going to be important for some of the players including Yuvraj. If he keeps up his early season form, he will be a front runner for the number 5 or number 6 batting position in the team. Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina are also in the mix, and how well they bat in the one-dayers will give them that push or pull to make the Test eleven.
Australia will have realised that on pitches like Rajkot, their bowlers will have to come up with a different strategy than what they attempted in the T20 match. There was little attempt to vary the angles, and persisting with the low full tosses was surprising, for the ball was disappearing from sight just about every time.
The modern method of trying these deliveries is baffling, for only if you are bowling in excess of 150 kph will the low full toss be effective, and again, depending on its direction. India too will be looking at its bowling attack, for they gave far too many easy runs.
The limited overs format, especially the T20, is a harsh one for the bowlers, but unless they try second guessing the batsman's intentions they are not going to succeed in stopping the blows and the flow of runs. Both teams have some of the biggest hitters in the game, so there should be plenty of excitement ahead for the viewers.
Professional Management Group