Here is a look at the week ahead in international cricket featuring the ODIs that see India host Australia and the West Indies continue their multi-format tour of South Africa. The week also sees New Zealand host Sri Lanka in that series’ second and final Test.
Here is a look at some of the games with odds from BetXchange.
South Africa VS West Indies (1st ODI) – Buffalo Park, East London
When: Thursday, March 16
South Africa crushed the West Indies 2-0 in the Test series part of this tour. In truth, the Windies never looked like winning either of the matches, with the hosts in control from almost the first ball bowled on both occasions. The second Test was especially demoralizing, with the Proteas winning by a colossal 284 runs as they bowled out the Windies for just 106 in their second innings.
The tourists will be hoping that the white ball game treats them better. There will be three ODIs to be followed by three T20Is, and South Africa will be looking to take their momentum into these contests. Temba Bavuma will captain a strong side, with the likes of Quinton de Kock and Ressie van der Dussen expected to play key roles in the series. Wlaan Mulder has been ruled out with a side strain, while Keshav Maharaj will be out for an extended period after rupturing his Achilles while celebrating a wicket in the second Test.
Shai Hope will lead the Windies, taking over from Nicholas Pooran, who does remain in the squad. The Windies are ninth in the OSI Super League, one place below South Africa. This means that both have work to do to qualify for the World Cup later this year, and it is that motivation that I think will push South Africa – albeit a much-changed South Africa from the Tests – to a win.
India VS Australia (1st ODI) – Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai
When: Friday, March 17
After a four-Test series India won on home soil, the hosts will take on Australia in three ODIs next. The big news is that Rohit Sharma will miss the first ODI due to family commitments and that Hardik Pandya will deputize as captain until he returns to the squad.
Australia will also be without its regular captain as Pat Cummins remains in Oz after the death of his mother. That means Steve Smith will lead the squad with Cumming on compassionate leave. The Aussies have a 15-man squad to choose from, with Nathan Ellis already in the fold following an injury to Jhye Richardson earlier in the tour.
This is an Australia squad that is all-rounder heavy. While they will want to win, I think they are using this ODI series to see the best way to balance their starting XI and the available options. India seems more settled and more sure of their identity, which means they win this first ODI.
New Zealand VS Sri Lanka (2nd Test) – Basin Reserve, Wellington
When: Friday, March 17 – Tuesday, March 21
New Zealand dashed Sri Lanka’s hopes of a place in the Test Cricket World Series Finals as they beat them on the very last ball in the first Test.
Kane Williamson’s unbeaten century proved to be the difference between the two squads, with New Zealand needing – and getting – eight off of the final over to win in Christchurch.
I wouldn’t expect much change in either team, but it will be interesting to see if Sri Lanka plays with the same level or verve and skill now that the ability to be a finalist has been taken away. I think that deflates them enough that New Zealand runs out winners again in the second Test in Wellington.