Let's be honest. Put your hands up those who genuinely remember the tri-series India played in Australia (England were the third team) early last year. Of course, we all remember the Test series - Virat Kohli's first as a captain, his swashbuckling centuries, MS Dhoni's retirement. And then later, there was the memorable World Cup. But the tri-series in between fell into a chasm of cricketing memories. (Australia won it, of course)
An year later, MS Dhoni's men are back Down Under for a series that carries far more importance to both nations. Starting with the five-match ODI series on Tuesday, the Indian team will spend three weeks in Australia - a minuscule of the four months they spent last year. But that does mean that the Indians are coming into this series with a set of players who have quite the experience of conditions they will encounter.
While the obvious focus is on the World T20 in two months - and by extension, the three-match T20 series later on tour - the ODI series pits the two top-ranked teams in the world. Australia have to contend with the absence of their best fast bowlers - Mitchell Johnson (retired), Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins (injured). Their new-look pace attack will have a tough test against the seasoned Indian batsmen.
India on the other hand have quite a few problems to contend with - the bowling lineup weakened by Mohammed Shami's injury and the batting order conundrum, both of which Firstpost have covered in detail.
As is mostly the case in front of their home crowd, Australia start as the clear favourites. How do the numbers stack up between the two teams in ODIs? How many bilateral series have India and Australia played against each other in Australia?
For those who are fascinated by the numbers, here's a complete statistical preview of the series:
For starters, it is the first time India will be playing a bilateral series in Australia. On all other occasions - when India met Australia in Australia - it was either in a triangular series or a major tournament.
The two teams come in to the series on the back of contrasting ODI form in 2015.
Australia have an edge over India in ODIs and they have clearly dominated the proceedings in their own backyard, winning three out of every four games against India.
A big test for both the batting lineups:
It will be interesting to see the performance of Indian and Australian players against each other on Australian soil. Most of the Indian batsmen tend to underperform while playing against Australia in Australia in comparison to playing against other opponents in Australia. Ajinkya Rahane is the only exception, based on his World Cup 2015 scores.
Among all Indian batsmen MS Dhoni has the best batting average in Australia. It gets dropped by just over three points, but still it’s a healthy 45. Some critics will see that Dhoni’s average gets inflated by his unusual unbeaten knocks, but that also needs some effort. Rohit Sharma also sees his average dropping while playing against Australia, but only just.
Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli are the biggest sufferers in this aspect. Kohli’s case is really surprising. His overall average in Australia is a healthy 41, but against Australia he has scored his runs at an average of under 16 – a huge difference of 25.50. Surely, a player of his ranks is expected to do much better than this.
On the other hand, most of the Australian batsmen tend to raise their games while playing against India in Australia. The only exceptions are David Warner and Shaun Marsh.
Indian pacers have performed rather well in Australia, but it’s the performance of spinners that may be a cause of concern for skipper MS Dhoni. R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja have both struggled against Australia in Australia.
It has been kind of a mixed bag for Australian bowlers. However, we should not reach to any conclusion with these figures as the players listed below are not Australia’s frontline bowlers. The pace spearheads Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins are out of the squad. As already confirmed by the Australian camp, new faces Joel Paris and Scott Boland will debut in Perth on Tuesday.
Average first innings score in last 10 ODIs at Perth- 229
Perth has a reputation of being the fastest venue in Australia. However, the figures for World Cup 2015 portray an entirely different picture. Among all grounds in Australia during World Cup 2015, only Sydney was more spinner-friendly than Perth in terms of percentage of wickets taken by the spinners!
While spinners’ average was more than 52 in matches played in Australia during the World Cup 2015, their average at Perth was only 27.41 - best among all venues. Not only this, only Brisbane had a better economy for spinners than Perth.
All in all, it promises to be a gripping series. Who will come out on top Down Under?
All statistics courtesy @rgcricket. With text inputs from Vinayakk Mohanarangan.