Here is a look at the week ahead in international cricket featuring the conclusion of ODIs that see India host Australia and the West Indies continue their multi-format tour of South Africa. There is also a preview of the 1st ODI between Zimbabwe and the Netherlands.
Here is a look at some of the games with odds from BetXchange.
Zimbabwe VS Netherlands (1st ODI) – Harare Sports Club, Harare
When: Tuesday, March 21
This is a blink-and-you-miss-it tour, with the Netherlands having played one 50-over Tour match as a warm-up before getting into this three-match ODI series. It is a series that makes up part of the 2020-2023 ICC Cricket World Cup Super League, and it has been rearranged from September 2020 and the Covid-19 pandemic.
The big team news for the tourists is that Bas de Leede is out due to a heel injury, with Aryan Dutt being named in the squad as his replacement. Zimbabwe will be at full strength, with Sean Williams, Blessing Muzarabani, and Tendai Chatara returning from injury. Ryan Burl will join them, and Sikandar Raza, who are both available after their white ball franchise commitments are over.
Given how strong their squad is, it is hard to see the Netherlands turning Zimbabwe over on their home patch. I like the hosts here.
South Africa VS West Indies (3rd ODI) – Sanwes Park, Potchefstroom
When: Tuesday, March 21
This is a match that South Africa needs to win to avoid an unexpected home series defeat against the West Indies. The first match in East London was a complete washout – the teams didn’t even get to conduct the toss – and the hosts were favorites to win the 2nd ODI held at the same venue two days later.
That is not how things played out. The Windies won the toss, elected to bat, and smashed an impressive 335/8 from their 50 overs. Shai Hope was at his imperious best with the bat, pacing the inning and finishing on an unbeaten 128 from 115 balls. South Africa tried to run down the big total – captain Temba Bavuma putting in a captain’s knock with 144 from 118 balls – but the team collapsed around him, and the Proteas finished 48 runs short of the total.
Expect South Africa to be closer to full strength to save the series. David Miller and Aiden Markram should come back into the middle order to solidify that part of the lineup. It is worth noting that this pitch is not one where runs have been freely scored in ODIs. The Windies won on the strength of their batting, with their fielding finishing somewhere between weird and incompetent. Bet the hosts, but – given the pitch – I also like no century to be scored at 1/1.
India VS Australia (3rd ODI – M.A. Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai
When: Wednesday, March 22
This is a good, old-fashioned series decider in Chennai, with the series tied at one win each. India took the first ODI by five wickets on the back of KL Rahul’s unbeaten 75, while the tourists fought back to take the second match by an outrageous ten wickets as they bowled out India for 117 before running them down without loss.
India will be looking for a reaction here. The 2nd ODi was, frankly, embarrassing. It took Mitchell Marsh and Travis Head just 11 overs to score the 121 needed to win. That made the match India’s heaviest defeat in ODI cricket ever – by balls remaining – with the Aussies having an astonishing 234 balls left at the end of the contest.
Mitchell Starc was also immense, as the seamer used the weather to his advantage to take 5 for 53. This was the ninth five-wicket blitz of his ODI career, and with the pacer in that form and the batting being in the right place, I like the Aussies to win in an upset.