The stage is set in Ahmedabad on Sunday. Undoubtedly, the best two teams in the tournament will face off in the final of the ICC Cricket World Cup. India are the hosts and the favourites after a near-perfect group stage but Australia may be coming good just at the right time. Who will win today’s match? India or Australia. Let’s explore the form.
India have 10 wins from 10 in this tournament and, for most people looking for online cricket betting tips, they are the clear choice. They have not been in danger of losing since they were three wickets down with only two runs on the board when chasing a paltry 199 in their opening group game.
However, that was against Australia. That day, Virat Kohil’s 85 and KL Rahul’s unbeaten 97 saw India home with something to spare. But, as both semi-finals showed, if the tide of the game is set early it can be hard to change. India were 327-1 against New Zealand and their eventual 397 seemed an impossible chase. After a poor start, the Kiwis worried the hosts for a while but, eventually, the pressure told
Still, Australia have won their last eight games and, as usual, have got stronger as the tournament has gone on. Mental strength was perhaps the main difference between them and South Africa in the other semi-final.
Having been forced to field, Australia stifled the early run-scoring and, in trying to break free, the Proteas slumped to 22-3 from 10.5 overs. Chasing just 212, Australia endured a middle-order collapse on a turning pitch. But, as ever, sound technique and iron will pushed them over the line in relative comfort.
They will need more of that on Sunday.
With three centuries and five half-centuries, Kohil is the leading batter in the tournament with 711 runs. His team-mates Rohit Sharma (550) and Shreyas Iyer (526) are split between Australia’s David Warner (528) in the runs-scorers' table.
The overall strength of the Indian batting line-up is such that No 11 Mohammed Siraj is yet to face a ball at the tournament despite playing all 10 games. There is a downside to such dominance. The ability to turn around games when you are in trouble.
Glenn Maxwell’s stunning 201 against Afghanistan sparked the comeback of the group stages. It is no surprise he has the only strike-rate in the tournament over 150. But Aussie opener Travis Head is second on the list with 139. The only Indian batter with a strike-rate of more than 116 is Rohit Sharma.
Such is the host’s excellent upper order have not had to fire their way out of trouble so far in this tournament but they will be tested against Australia like nothing else over the past four weeks.
Mohammed Shami’s incredible 7-57 against New Zealand in Wednesday's semi-final took him to the top of the wicket-takers' table. That is just one above Australian spinner Adam Zampa.
However, in limited-overs cricket, economy rate is just as important as dismissing batters and Jasprit Bumrah (3.98) is the only mainline bowler going at less than four runs per over in this tournament. Then again Ravi Jadeja (4.25) and Kuldeep Jadav (4.32) are also more economical than Australia’s most miserly bowler, Josh Hazelwood (4.67).
Despite an excellent semi-final, the Aussie quicks have been below their best in this tournament. Expect Sharma to try to dominate them early on after Mitchell Starc’s dismissal of Temba Bavuma and Aiden Markram proved so pivotal in the semi-final
The Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad has been a low-scoring venue in this World Cup.
It has hosted four games so far in this tournament. On October 5, New Zealand won the toss, decided to field and restricted England to 282-9. Despite losing Will Young from the seventh ball, Dean Conway and Rachin Ravindra both hit centuries as the Kiwi reached their target in 36.2 overs.
When India took on Pakistan on on October 14, they won the toss and fielded too. Pakistan were bowled out for 191 in 42.5 overs which the hosts chased down in a little more than 30 overs
On November 10, Afghanistan won the toss and batted, reached 244 in 50 overs. Despite a wobble, South Africa got there for the loss of five wickets with 15 balls left.
The only game at Narendra Modi Stadium in which the side batting second won, involved England. And they were undoubtedly the disappointment of the event. Against Australia on November 4, Jos Buttler won the toss and chose to field. Pat Cummins’ side reached 286 but England fell 33 runs short after being bowled out with 11 balls to spare.
From this admittedly limited sample, it seems that the best toss prediction is not as important as batting second. And no setting side has posted more than 286. Only one team has hit more than that in an ODI since 2005 and that came in 2010 when South Africa hit 365-2, the highest score on this ground in that format.
It has to be India. It is safe to predict that Australia will push them harder than anyone and the weight of expectation on the hosts is huge. However, there is precious little to suggest India will not lift the World Cup. Anyone looking for free cricket betting odds and tips should expect nothing different from this prediction.
So maybe look further afield for your bets. For example, put your money on the largely unheralded Shreyas Iyer to be India’s top run-scorer or one of their bowlers, such as Shami or Bumrah, to be Man of the Match.
Especially if you think neither side will make more than 280. Also, the toss prediction may well dictate the match prediction. Setting has been tough at Narendra Modi Stadium during this World Cup. But even India may struggle if Australia bat first a post over 300. It will take something exceptional like that to stop them lifting the World Cup.