Australia v India @ The Gabba
Such has been the dominance of the Australian Cricket team in recent times, it is rare that a series is still on the line heading into the last test of the Australian summer.
It seemed a forgone conclusion that Australia would collect the final eight wickets on the fifth day in Sydney. They were dominant during the first four – finally putting together two strong batting performances. In the first innings the debutant Will Pucovski made a strong start to his test career with a well constructed 62. Then followed a Marnus Labuschagne half century and a welcome return to form for Steve Smith who made his first hundred of the summer.
The second innings was much of the same. Smith and Labuschagne made half centuries. But this time it was the other youngster, Cam Green, who showed his potential with the bat. He made an innings high 84.
But India would not be denied. When Rishabh Pant walked to the middle on the final morning India were three wickets down and had just less than 100 overs to bat to draw the game. He and Pujara combined for a wonderful partnership giving the Indian’s hope. In the end Pant was caught for 97, just short of what would have been a superb hundred. The Aussies then dislodged Pujara but that would be their last wicket as Vihari and Ashwin fought tooth and nail to defend their wickets; in the process securing India with a historic draw. The series is tied at one all.
So onto Brisbane – a ground that historically the Australian’s love playing at. And while the momentum is with India the visitors have suffered yet more injuries and important ones at that. Critically they have lost Jasprit Bumrah – the one man they could not afford to lose. He is their opening bowler and main weapon with the ball. Vihari, one of the Sydney heroes has an injured hamstring and will not play. All rounder Jadeja has a broken thumb, he will miss too. Then there’s Pant – he has an elbow injury and was unable to wicket keep in the second innings but appeared unhampered during his batting innings. I suspect he plays as a batsman and Saha comes into keep wicket.
The Australian’s have one injury concern. Will Pucovski landed on his shoulder in the field on day five and was sent for scans. If he is to miss then former opener Marcus Harris looks the likely replacement at the top of the order.
Australia have shortened significantly in the head to head markets in the past couple of days and I think rightly so. They are now sub $1.50 to win the test. Their record at the Gabba is superb and India are on their knees with injuries. But again I am looking to the most run scorer markets for my suggested betting strategy. The reasons are similar to what I outlined for the Sydney Test.
Steve Smith Most Runs Australia (1st Innings) – Smith is as hungry for runs as any batsman in the world and once he gets in it is very very hard to get him out. He looked to have a ridiculous amount of time in Sydney and I am backing him to carry that momentum into Brisbane. He is up against a weakened Indian bowling attack and is every chance to make another big first innings score.
Ajinkya Rahane Most Runs India (1st Innings) – Rahane is the class player in the Indian batting line up and the one most suited to playing on Australian pitches. Especially a pitch like the Gabba which is known for its bounce. I think he should be favourite in this market therefor he represents value at $4.