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India vs Australia 5th ODI Preview: Decider in Delhi has more than series at stake

Indian Express 2019-03-12 17:13:56
The fifth and final ODI at Feroz Shah Kotla in New Delhi serves yet another thrilling finale in the ever-evolving chapters of India vs Australia ODI cricket. (AP Photo) 

The fifth and final one-day international (ODI) at Feroz Shah Kotla in New Delhi serves yet another thrilling finale in the ever-evolving chapters of India vs Australia ODI cricket. Since 2001, these two sides have met each other six times in a five-match series with the balance in favour of Australia at 3-2. India should have made it all square already but the Kangaroos leveled the series at 2-2 in Mohali chasing down a record 359.

What was meant to be an exercise in ironing out deficiencies has now suddenly exposed quite a few chinks in India’s armour as Virat Kohli and his boys are being pushed to the limit in home conditions.

Now with one game to play in the series it is the home team which has placed themselves on nervous grounds because a loss to Australia, which has had a poor record in limited overs cricket in the recent few years, just before the World Cup, would be a detrimental to their World Cup preparation. India had already lost the Twenty20 International (T20I) series by 2-0 and to then lose the ODI series, from a confident position, would take the team two steps back.

India in the spotlight

Just before the start of the series, India were tipped as strong contenders for the ICC Cricket World Cup but are now suddenly being challenged by a half strength Australia. Given the larger picture and its long-term implications, a win is imperative for the Indian team. Experiments need to be put on hold for now and the approach should be to go in with the best playing XI.

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First and foremost Kohli should be back at his number three position simply because his impact at four reduces considerably. Not only does his average drop from 63.67 to 56.48 but his strike rate also drops a few numbers from 94.15 to 90.49. If the choice does boil down to Ambati Rayudu/ KL Rahul then the former is a better option at four since he has been backed for a considerable time.

Another option is Vijay Shankar who has shown the temperament to bat at that position. Compared to Rayudu, Shankar’s ability to rotate the strike backed by a strong defensive technique does put him in the list. But if Shankar does play at No. 4 then No. 7 becomes empty.

Bowling coach Bharat Arun was all praise for him when he said, “Vijay Shankar’s batting has rubbed off on his bowling. He used to bowl around 120kph before but now can touch 130. He is a huge positive for us.”

The difference between Mohali and Kotla will be the sluggish bounce on offer so going in with three specialists spinners is an idea that the Indian think tank can ponder on. A spin bowling allrounder instead of fast bowling seems like a more sensible option.

Arun also confirmed that Mohammad Shami is fit having missed the fourth ODI due to a slight niggle in the third ODI. Hence, Bhuvneshwar Kumar might have to sit out if Shami does come in.

India did cancel it’s practice session but a bit of fielding drills and a wicket-keeping session for Rishabh Pant would have done a world of good. Letting go of five chances with two being sitters is something a side tipped to be champions cannot afford.

Bad fielding along with excessive experimentation in the series is suddenly making India seem slightly unstable. A win and that too a comprehensive one will bring those elements back into the side. Reading too much into the last match is unnecessary in the grand scheme of things – for England and Wales won’t offer as much dew and neither will Team India spill 5 chances. Possibly.

Probable XI: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli (c), KL Rahul, Rishabh Pant (wk), Kedar Jadhav, Vijay Shankar, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammad Shami, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah

Australia eye a huge upset

Courtesy of their outstanding comebacks at Ranchi and Mohali, Australia have leveled the series and lie on the cusp of causing an upset in Kohli’s hometown. The last time they won a bilateral ODI series in India was in 2009 and overall, their last series win was in 2016/17.

Unlike India, the visitors have have been able to forge a stable unit. Aaron Finch has had a jittery series but it is Usman Khawaja who has stabilised things at the top. It is helped by the big hitting prowess of Glenn Maxwell and Ashton Turner in the middle to keep the inning going and take things up a notch if required.

Australia are likely to remain unchanged with Marcus Stoinis still unfit. The only change that could occur is in the bowling department where depending on the pitch, Nathan Lyon could slot into the starting eleven.

Probable XI: Aaron Finch (c), Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, Peter Handscomb, Glenn Maxwell, Ashton Turner, Alex Carey (wk), Pat Cummins, Jhye Richardson, Adam Zampa, Jason Behrendorff/Nathan Lyon

Pitch and conditions

Everybody’s eyes will be on what happens after sunset and which team will bear the brunt of the dreaded dew is anybody’s guess. However, overnight rains have complicated matter a little bit because if there are heavy clouds then the formation of dew will be minimal. But if the rains are followed by bright sunshine then dew will come into play. So that element of risk does remain.

Temperatures are expected to hover around 25 degrees and conditions are expected to be slightly cloudy. The pitch as mentioned will be on the slower side, hence the team which wins the toss should look to bat first and defend.

India vs Australia 5th ODI Squads

India: Virat Kohli (captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Ambati Rayudu, Kedar Jadhav, Vijay Shankar, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Ravindra Jadeja, Yuzvendra Chahal, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Rishabh Pant (wk).

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Australia: Aaron Finch, Usman Khawaja, Peter Handscomb, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Ashton Turner, Jhye Richardson, Adam Zampa, Andrew Tye, Pat Cummins, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Alex Carey, Nathan Lyon, Jason Behrendorff.