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Australia v India

SCG | 2:30 PM (AEST)

Australia – After all sorts of wrangling and delays, the men’s international summer is finally here. And it starts with a bang; six white ball games (three ODIs and three T20s) in just 12 days.
Australia and India are incredibly evenly matched when it comes to short-format cricket. Since the Test series two summers ago, they’ve played 14 ODI/T20 matches, with both sides claiming seven wins apiece. Each has also won an ODI series on opposition turf in that time. So who could be the difference this time? Steve Smith (who missed the September series against England) is a big inclusion, and should be a straight swap for Mitch Marsh who is injured. In that UK tour selectors opted for three all-rounders in all three ODIs (Marsh, Marcus Stoinis and Glenn Maxwell) and, should they look to continue that theme, could opt for exciting young prospect Cameron Green. Having played just nine 50-over games for Western Australia the move would come as a surprise, but would continue the traditional of blooding Test-destined youngsters in the ODI side. For Green to force his way in, however, it would likely be at the expense of Marnus Labuschagne, which would be seen as a harsh call.

In truth, it hasn’t been a great lead-in to the series for many of Justin Langer’s men as, despite a large Aussie contingent at this season’s IPL (19, in fact), few stood out in the recently-concluded tournament. Some were rarely picked (Josh Hazlewood, Adam Zampa and Alex Carey), others did not get the returns hoped for pre-tournament (Smith and Pat Cummins) while a few were even dropped (Glenn Maxwell and captain Aaron Finch). It was only David Warner and Marcus Stoinis that stood out. What residual effect that has on form, confidence and even conditioning is to be seen.

India – In contrast with the Aussies, several of India’s stars are coming off very strong IPL campaigns. The likes of Jasprit Bumrah, Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Shreyas Iyer, Yuzvendra Chahal and Mohammad Shami again lead the way at the showpiece tournament, and are entering the ODI/T20 leg of this tour in top form. They will, however, be missing the world’s number two ODI batsman in Rohit Sharma who will sit out with a hamstring complaint. The man sitting at number one in the ICC rankings, skipper Virat Kohli, is set to explode in this leg of the tour. Knowing his impact on the Test series is limited (Kohli is flying home to be with his wife for the birth of their first child after the first Test in Adelaide), the only indelible mark he can leave on this tour of Australia is in the shorter formats.
Like Australia, India’s bowling group is a known and reliable entity. The consistent output of Burma, Shami and Chahal is something Kohli can rely on. As such, it’s their batting that will be most under the microscope. And if the likes of Rahul and Dhawan can replicate what they’ve done in recent months, they’ll put themselves in with a huge chance.

Betting – Theoretically, having had no sport on the ground for quite some time, the SCG pitch should be a belter and conducive to quick scoring. As referenced above, these sides are neck-and-neck in short form cricket but given the return of Smith, home ground advantage and the missing Rohit Sharma, the Aussies should edge it. Speaking of Smith — his last three ODI innings against India read: 131, 98 and 69. He represents a strong top runscorer option. If the pitch offers something for the seamers in the opening 10 overs, Josh Hazlewood becomes a similarly solid wicket-taker option for the home side. For the tourists, Kohli is raring to go and understands the need to may hay while he can. He represents a good option with the bat, while Jasprit Bumrah — with his ability to strike both from the outset and at the death — is the Indian bowler most dangerous in the wickets department.

Betting MarketBetting Tip
Head to Head:Australia
Top Australia Runscorer:Steve Smith
Top Australia Wicket Taker:Josh Hazlewood
Top India Runscorer:Virat Kohli
Top India Wicket Taker:Jasprit Bumrah