Australia begin what is a big home international summer on Sunday when they welcome Zimbabwe to Townsville for the first of three ODIs between the two teams, one which offers up points towards World Cup qualification.
We are around six weeks out from Australia looking to defend their 20 over world title on home soil and although this is 50 overs it gives their players the chance to build up some form. Zimbabwe are looking to pull off a surprise and claim valuable qualifying points.
It is only a decade or so ago that Australia were an unbeatable force in the 50 over game and although they haven’t delivered on that since they last won the World Cup in 2015, they have shown in the 20 over game that they still have the potential to do big things. This clearly isn’t going to be the toughest test they will face over the summer months but it offers up a competitive contest for players who haven’t been playing in the franchise leagues to get out in the middle and shake off the rust.
You would imagine the Australia bowlers are likely to have things their own way in all three of these matches in these conditions but there are a couple who will probably need the gallop. In the main the big Australian batters have been away playing cricket overseas but their task will be to adjust to the quicker and bouncier conditions. That is pretty much what these matches are about. The other thing would be to win as emphatically as expected to stop any unnecessary noise from starting.
The Zimbabweans will head to Australia knowing that they are up against it but at the same time they will have the advantage of having just finished a pretty high profile series against India. They were beaten comfortably in that series but it offered them a glimpse of what is required at this level. The big problem they are likely to face here is the different conditions. Such has been their fall from grace on the world scene, few of their players would have played in Australia so everything will be alien to them.
I always think when the lesser sides go up against the giant ones that they need to be able to control things with the ball as much as possible. That will be the test for Zimbabwe here because they don’t really have any out and out pace and certainly in the early stages of the series spin isn’t likely to find too much assistance. Zimbabwe haven’t been able to get a warm up match in ahead of this series so you would imagine they are going to need the run out in this opening game.
Sign up for a Boylesports account to get up to £25 in free bets! Perfect offer for this series! Click the image below for this great offer! New accounts only. 18+ T&Cs apply. Gamble Aware.
Australia could have been tempted to play a second string side in this series like India did against Zimbabwe recently but they have not chosen to go down that route. Pat Cummins is the only guaranteed starter who isn’t involved.
Blessing Muzarabani missed the India series with injury but he has been passed fit to tour Australia with Zimbabwe and he might be thrown straight back into the side in place of Victor Nyauchi in an otherwise unchanged side from the last game against India.
Finding bets on this series probably isn’t going to be the easiest thing in the world when you consider the gulf in depth between these two sides and most likely talent too, particularly when you factor in that we don’t really know a huge amount about Townsville as a venue and even more so at this time of year but there is one bet which I’m happy to go with for this opening ODI and that comes in the form of a player performance.
I must admit I was hoping for a line on Mitchell Marsh but with none forthcoming I’ll go with the one for the in form Sikandar Raza, a player who has done the rounds in the franchise leagues and has been competitive within them so shouldn’t be out of his depth here unlike some of his teammates might be to begin with. Raza has three centuries in his last six ODI innings and two 60s in his last three T20I knocks. They have been against Bangladesh and India so they are relevant. That tells us he’s in great touch with the bat but he is also a useful spinner who will surely bowl his 10 overs and a decent fielder as well. Zimbabwe have no hope if he doesn’t play well but the recent evidence suggests he is in the form to cover a 33.5 line.
Back S.Raza’s Performance – Over 33.5pts for a 3/10 stake at 1.83 with Bet365