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India vs Australia, 2nd ODI, Preview – India face true test of ODI skills and mindset to keep the series alive

Virat Kohli - the Indian captain has found himself under fire after the team's lacklustre performance in the first match.

David Warner
David Warner. (Photo Source: Twitter)

The five-match ODI series last year could have marked the end of a lengthy 50-over series bout between India and Australia. May 2020 signals the start of the ODI league in which all the series categorized under the tournament will be capped at the three matches’ course.

From 2001, the two sides have engaged in six series in the format, playing at least five games and at times even seven in those six. Had the ongoing sequence been one of those and not a three-match set, the men in blue may have received some breathing space. Very few or none may have imagined that we would be talking along the lines of India being under immense pressure to prevent another series defeat at home to Australia.

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The ten-wicket thrashing at the Wankhede Stadium on Tuesday in the first match successfully reopened the “number-four” debate. The Indian think-tank bungled a batting order that was only beginning to adjust and starting to produce the goods finally.

Virat Kohli’s selflessness had to wait and the opposition is the very reason why the captain should have stuck to his ideal position of number three instead of number four. The intent to accommodate all three openers made the newbies in the middle-order start all over again.

It was not only the batting performance that resulted in frustration for India. Defending 256 on a wicket that was improving for the batsmen, the much-vaunted bowling attack posed very little threat. And the way Australia coasted to victory, it indicated that another 100 runs on the board would also have been well within their reach. A daunting challenge has been laid out to their batsmen as well as the bowlers ahead of the game in Rajkot.

In the face of this, let’s not forget to acknowledge how clinical Australia were on the day. They ousted India in all the departments – power-hitting, subtlety, pace, spin, and groundwork. The second-wicket partnership between Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul threatened to undo all the progress made by them till then. However, their strikes at regular intervals after that never allowed India to recover. Post that, it all came down to a spectacular display of batting by David Warner and Aaron Finch.

Such was the duo’s influence that the crowd at the Wankhede surrendered and instead rallied behind the Australians. Finch and Warner did rode on their fair share of luck. The skipper survived two edges off Kuldeep Yadav’s bowling that landed in no man’s land while Warner enjoyed two DRS decisions going his way. Despite a commanding win, the tourists must remain grounded and cannot afford to take their foot out of the pedal.

Playing Combinations:

India:

The biggest news from India’s camp is that of Rishabh Pant failing to recover in time for the second ODI. The wicketkeeper-batsman suffered a concussion after being struck by a bouncer off Pat Cummins on his helmet while getting dismissed in the opening game. KL Rahul is expected to keep the wickets. However, Kedar Jadhav’s ability to keep the wickets can be utilized by the team management if the all-rounder gets picked in the playing XI.

Another change one may foresee is the inclusion of Navdeep Saini instead of Shardul Thakur. The latter managed to trouble Warner only in his first over; post which the southpaw milked him for runs with ease. With Saini looking in good nick, he could get the nod.

It would also be interesting to see how does Virat Kohli reshuffles the batting order. The Indian skipper demoted himself to No.4 in the previous match to accommodate the trio of Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul in the top-order. However, with Kohli’s move turning futile, India might consider reshuffling their batting order. Shivam Dube might also squeeze into the squad to bolster the squad with his all-round abilities.

Predicted XI: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli (c), KL Rahul (wk), Shreyas Iyer, Shivam Dube/Kedar Jadhav, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Navdeep Saini/Shardul Thakur.

Australia:

The visitors will most likely go ahead with the same eleven that they fielded in Mumbai. Since the end of their World Cup campaign till date, their batting depth in limited-overs has hardly faced a stern test. With another batting beauty expected in Rajkot, it looks unlikely to go through any tribulations.

Predicted XI: David Warner, Aaron Finch(c), Marnus Labuschagne, Steven Smith, Ashton Turner, Alex Carey(wk), Ashton Agar, Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Kane Richardson, Adam Zampa.

Focus will be on:

Virat Kohli (India)

Virat Kohli – the Indian captain has found himself under fire after the team’s lacklustre performance in the first match. Not only in terms of runs, but Kohli wasn’t able to inspire his boys on the field as all he could do is watch the Australian openers bulldoze India.

There is nothing more significant than a do or die situation that inspires the Indian captain to bring out his best. The Delhi batsman relishes these challenges and is known to come out on top. And there is no opposition better than Australia to bounce back. Therefore, the fans may get to witness a master at work in Rajkot.

Mitchell Starc (Australia)

Make no mistake, Mitchell Starc was excellent in the opening match. The left-arm speedster found his rhythm after being slightly wayward initially and dented the Indian batsmen’s progress in three different phases. Despite being the pick of the bowlers with match figures of 10-0-56-3, the 29-year old strangely struggled in the death overs.

On a lively surface, the brief cameo at the end by Kuldeep Yadav and Mohammed Shami at the end that pushed India past 250 may have been handy. Starc missed his line and lengths multiple times, allowing the tailenders to collect as many as three boundaries and to easily rotate the strike. Not only Starc, but the Australian bowlers may want to plug even that tiny a sniff to prevent a loss.

Head to Head:

Played – 138

Won by Australia – 78

Won by India – 50

No result – 10

Stat attack:

46 – Rohit Sharma remains 46 runs adrift of reaching 9000 runs in ODI cricket.

2 – The men in blue have lost both their 50-over matches in Rajkot. They suffered a defeat to England in 2013 and to South Africa in 2015.

1 – Kuldeep Yadav needs one wicket to get to 100 ODI wickets. He would be the first Indian left-arm chinaman bowler to achieve the milestone.

Among the top run-getters against India in ODIs, Aaron Finch is the only active player from Australia. The Aussie captain has 1159 runs at 46.36 in 27 matches.

Broadcast details:

TV – Star Sports 1, Star Sports 1 HD

Live Streaming – Hotstar

Match Timings – 1:30 pm local (IST), 7:00 pm (Australia)

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