Never judge a book by its cover and rule out an Australian cricket team from title contention at your own peril, are the two old concrete jungle sayings.
The five-time ICC ODI World Cup champions, at least on paper, can’t be rated ahead of India and England during this edition of the tournament.
But the quality of this team is such that one won’t be surprised if it pulls a rabbit out of the hat at some point in time during the tournament.
Australia begin their campaign against India in Chennai on October 8.
Here’s the SWOT Analysis
The strength of this Australian team is certainly its batting, which does have a lot of depth with capable hitters right down till No. 9 in the line-up. David Warner is no doubt playing his last ODI tournament and has been in ominous form during the pre-cursor against India.
The maverick southpaw would like one final hurrah and a second 50-over silverware in his cabinet before calling time on his illustrious career. Travis Head’s injury has given Mitchell Marsh a chance to open and the big all-rounder has taken to the role like fish to water. Steve Smith, Cameron Green, Glenn Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis are all big hitters and good players of spin bowling, which is an advantage.
The real weakness of this side is the spin bowling department which only has one specialist spinner Adam Zampa. Missing Ashton Agar’s restrictive wicket to wicket bowling in sub-continental conditions is going to affect them on tracks where there would be some turn on offer and the odd ball will be gripping off the surface.
Maxwell’s part-time off-spin is likely to come in handy as it was evident in Rajkot during the third ODI last week. But expecting 10 overs on most days from Maxwell will be a bit too much and Zampa’s form since the tour of South Africa has tapered off a bit. He has been pretty expensive in the past few games.
The number of all-rounders in the Aussie ranks gives them the chance to create opportunities like no other team. Green, Stoinis, Maxwell, Marsh (if he bowls) give the team a multi-dimensional look and there remains a lot of cover in case one of them has an off-day. Not to forget when Travis Head gets fit, he can also bowl some part-time spin. Also the experienced skipper Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood is possibly on par with Pakistan and India if not better. Left-armer Starc could be inconsistent but the day he gets deliveries to dart in, most top batters find him unplayable.