Packed with an incisive bowling attack, a confident India look to pile on the misery on the struggling Australians and seal the five-match One-day International series when they clash in Indore on Sunday, PTI reported.
It was no small task for Virat Kohli and his men to defend a modest target of 252 at Eden Gardens, which, despite being a two-paced track favoured the batsmen.
The hosts’ bowling combination has been clinical. Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah have made the Australian top-order look ordinary while the wrist spin duo of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal have also troubled the visitors.
Australia’s struggles are visible from the fact that eight of their batsmen were not able to reach double-digit scores in Chennai in the first ODI, while only four of them manages to add more than 10 runs in Kolkata.
India look to be heading for yet another series win, but the team also allowed the Australians to create a few openings that could have proved fatal if not for for some fine individual efforts.
The hosts’ top-order floundered in Chennai while it the middle order that was vulnerable in Kolkata, before the bowlers turned around India’s prospects.
The pressure is on Rohit Sharma, Kedar Jadhav and Manish Pandey, who need a good showing in order to justify their selection in the playing XI.
The selectors named the squad only for the first three ODIs so it’s about time that Pandey, who had a decent run during India A’s tour of South Africa, and Jadhav come up with something special.
Keeping in mind that the team management is looking to identify batsmen for the fourth and fifth batting positions for the 2019 World Cup in England, the highly-rated Pandey has been a bit of a hit and miss.
Jadhav has proved that he is a utility batsman but he needs to be a little more consistent and lift his side in crunch situations, especially with Hardik Pandya breathing down his neck.
The 70-yard short boundary on all sides in Indore should help the batsmen. From an Indian perspective, it has been a happy hunting ground for the hosts with captain Virat Kohli (211) and vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane (188) getting big hundreds in 2016 against New Zealand in the third Test.
The major reason why the Indian batsmen have been tied down is because of the consistent performances of their pacers, especially Nathan Coulter-Nile.
Coulter-Nile has has been probing the batsmen to jab at deliveries outside the off stump, which has played into the hands of the medium-pacer. Pacer Pat Cummins, despite not contributing much in the wickets column, has kept the run-flow in check during the power-play overs.
The Australians are now left to choose between spinners Adam Zampa and Ashton Agar, both of whom have failed to impress so far. In complete contrast, India’s Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal have dominated proceedings and have 10 wickets between them so far.
Yadav, who became only third Indian to get a ODI hat-trick, is gradually giving the team management confidence that he can be India’s frontline spinner. Leg-spinner Chahal has been miserly in the middle overs.
The curator has already predicted that wrist spinners will be effective on Holkar track, giving India enough reasons to smile.
Australia, on the other hand, need David Warner to fire at top of the order and Glenn Maxwell to see the side through in the middle order.
India has managed to contain captain Steve Smith. However, a big knock is on the cards. Just like the Chennai and the Kolkata games, rain may interrupt the game but fans would hope that the weather gods don’t spoil the game.
Will Finch play?
Desperately looking for a solid start at the top, Australia are pinning on hopes on Aaron Finch being fit. The swashbuckling opener injured his right calf muscle while playing for Surrey last month, has not played a single game on this tour of India.
In his absence, 25-year-old Hilton Cartright made his debut as an opener but had forgettable outings in the first two ODIs, just managing to add two runs from as many games.
With Warner also struggling for runs, Australia have not been able to get the ball rolling quickly. The Australia vice-captain has already made it clear that in order to combat the threat of the Indian spinners, they need the top order to fire. To Australia’s relief, Finch had a net session on Saturday and also looked smooth while running during the morning practice session.
“I think you know what he will bring. He is a very good player and he has played a lot of cricket for us in the past couple of years,” Warner said. “He brings a lot of aggression at the top of the batting order. It was good to see him practising hard and hopefully he will be fit for the game tomorrow.”
Finch has represented Australia in 82 ODIs and has played for six Indian Premier League franchises. The 30-year-old Victorian has plenty of experience of playing in Indian conditions and countering spinners.
Warner also came out in defence of under-fire batsman Cartright: “It is challenging for a young guy to take the bull by the horns. It is very difficult when you play on the world stage against the best ODI teams, it can get overwhelming.”
“He brings a lot of energy. He is a workaholic and brings in a lot of knowledge to the game,” Warner added.