Monday, 6 February 2012

It's time for ODI month

The conclusion of the third Test between England and Pakistan heralds the beginning of a month without any Test cricket. Until the 7th of Match the international cricket calender consists solely of ODI and T20 cricket, and in this time four series involving eight teams, all but two of the full member counties, will be contested. With only one of these series having got going yet, it seems like an apt time for a preview, focusing on what each of the countries involved will be looking to take from this month

CB Series

Australia have already won the first match of the CB series against India, and in the tri-series also involving Sri Lanka they will be expecting to win comfortably. They've got a side packed full of big hitters, from David Warner at the top to David Hussey in the lower middle order. The Test series against India has show that they have good bowling stocks, but can they adapt to the ODI game?

India are for once underdogs in an ODI series, they'll be low on confidence after the Test series, but one good win could bring that all back. If they do get their confidence back they've got a formidable batting line-up and a couple of decent seamers for ODI matches. A lot will depend on whether MS Dhoni can inspire his team in the field, and Jadeja's all round role could be pivotal.

Sri Lanka are a team in transition and have a fair amount of promise, which seems to show in fits and starts. Malinga coming back into the team will give them a boost, and their batting looked good in the last two ODIs against South Africa. The key for them may well be how their other seamers, likely to be Welegedara, Perera, and Prasad, bowl

Pakistan v England

England will be looking to bounce back from a hammering in the Test series, and may well be relying on their opening bowlers to make most of the damage. The batting is unsettled, and Kevin Pietersen may be elevated back to the top of the order, but he and Kieswetter are both under pressure. One area they need to improve to have any chance is their batting when chasing.

Pakistan will rely on a bevy of spinners to strangle England's progress, and ensure they don't have to chase to many big totals. Their batting could be a weaker point, with the stodgy accumulation that served them well in the Tests less useful here. Hafeez and Umar Akmal will need to provide the quick scoring and Shahid Afridi will come back in, Pakistan utilising his new role as canny bowler and lower order madcap.

New Zealand v Zimbabwe/South Africa

Zimbabwe have just one ODI and two T20s left against New Zealand and having already lost the ODI series they're just playing for pride in that one.

South Africa's squad hasn't been announced yet, but later in the month they take on the Kiwis in a series that could be close. The Proteas' batting looks well balanced if de Villiers would just stop constantly shifting players up and down the order. Their seam bowling should thrive on the green pitches of New Zealand, so expect the hosts to be fired out quickly one or two times.

New Zealand have a batting order with a lot of potential fire-power in it, but it doesn't always live up to expectation. Their seam bowling looks promising, but South Africa's batsmen will be harder to dismiss than Zimbabwe's. Their squad against Zimbabwe looks fairly inexperienced, but the experienced players may return for the South Africa series.

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