The caravan of the India tour of Australia rolls on as both sides move to the Manuka Oval in Canberra for the third and final ODI of the three-match series.
After having been steamrolled in the first two games, Team India has already lost the series but the third ODI will be crucial for them as they aim to not only avert a whitewash but also stem their five-match losing streak in 50-over cricket.
So, what changes that India might possibly make to their playing XI for the third ODI? Here’s a look-
Shikhar Dhawan’s streak of four consecutive 50-plus scores against Australia was broken in the last game when he top-edged Josh Hazlewood for a well compiled 23-ball 30.
Dhawan stroked some brilliant strokes during his knock but with the pressure of asking rate mounting with every delivery, one-shot proved too many for the southpaw and he was eventually dismissed for 30. The last time Dhawan batted in Canberra [in 2016], he notched up a brilliant 126. India will be hoping for the champion white-ball opener to do an encore of the same.
Mayank Agarwal has looked a million dollars in both the innings that he has played in the ODI series thus far but unfortunately, the pressure of the asking run-rate has led to his downfall on both occasions.
In the last match, the stylish opener played some dazzling strokes but was eventually undone by Pat Cummins when he edged the fast bowler straight to Alex Carey. Agarwal and India will hope for an innings of substance from the Test opener.
Virat Kohli [C]
After having undergone a rare lean patch this year, Virat Kohli looked in his elements during his 87-ball 89 in the second match in Sydney.
It was a typical Kohli innings; one that had his usual calm coupled with his sumptuous strokeplay. Ultimately, it took a blinder of a catch from Moises Henriques to deny the champion batsman from his 44th ODI hundred.
Kohli is 23 runs away from breaking Sachin Tendulkar’s record of being the fastest to breach the 12000-run-mark in ODI cricket. Kohli has 11977 runs to his name in just 242 innings and if scores 33 more runs on Tuesday, he’ll break SRT’s feat, who had achieved the milestone in 300 outings.
Kohli hasn’t scored an international ton this year and the Indian fans will be hoping that the charismatic batsman breaks the barren run and celebrates the milestone with yet another three-figure score.
Shreyas Iyer had a miserable outing in the first game when he was embarrassingly dismissed by awkwardly fending the short-ball.
And, while that issue still exists, Iyer played a decent knock in the last game during which, he stitched a crucial 93-run-stand with skipper Virat Kohli.
But just as it looked like the young batsman was getting back into his elements, he got dismissed on a long-hop by Moises Henriques thanks to an outstanding catch by Steve Smith at mid-wicket. Iyer will hope to make amends and finish off the series with a substantial score.
KL Rahul [WK]
One of the real positives for Team India in ODI cricket in what has been a forgettable year for them is the manner in which KL Rahul has established himself at the No.5 spot.
Rahul gave another evidence of that in the last game at the SCG where he stroked a brilliant 66-ball 76- an innings which included four fours and five sixes. One aspect of his game that KL can improve on is his dot ball percentage. Rahul played quite a few dot balls in the last game, which proceeded to put the asking rate beyond the realms of reality.
Hardik Pandya stroked a brilliant 90 in the first ODI but he was not able to replicate the same magic in the last match as he struggled his way to a 31-ball 28.
That said, the biggest positive to emerge out from that game was the fact that the all-rounder made a return to bowling after a long gap. Pandya bowled four overs of cross-seam, in which he claimed the prized scalp of Steve Smith and very nearly claimed another one in the form of Marnus Labuschagne, had Ravindra Jadeja not dropped the catch.
Pandya was easily India’s best bowler on the show and with Virat confirming in the post-match interview that the all-rounder felt really good while bowling, is a welcome sign for the Men in Blue, given their recent struggles with the balance of the ODI team.
Ravindra Jadeja was once again economical in his spell of ten overs. Given the fact that the other bowlers were going in excess of 7 runs/over, Jadeja gave away just 60. However, he was once again unable to take wickets in the middle-overs, something he and the team-management will hope isn’t the case in the last ODI.
The most disappointing feature of Jadeja’s performance in the last game was perhaps his fielding. Not only did the champion athlete misfielded, but he also dropped a regulation catch of Marnus Labuschagne at long-off, a moment that really summed up India’s day.
As far as batting is concerned, Jadeja was aggressive in his approach as compared to the first match, and he tonked a few sixes during his 11-ball 24. But by the time, he had come to the crease, the match was all but over.
Apart from the fast bowlers’ inability to take wickets upfront, another issue that has plagued the Indian team is the lack of in-roads by their spinners in the middle-over phase.
Yuzvendra Chahal has not given India any sort of control in the middle-overs. Not only has he failed to take wickets, but he has also been taken to the cleaners by the Aussie batsmen. Chahal has conceded 160 runs in the 19 overs that he has bowled in the last two games, and India would be well served to rest him in favor of his former partner-in-crime, Kuldeep Yadav.
After a comparatively decent outing in the first ODI, Mohammed Shami was off the mark in the last game on a cement road masquerading as a pitch.
Shami was taken to the cleaners by the Aussie batsman and he did not even complete his quota of 10 overs. The right-hander finished with figures of 0-73 in nine overs, something he would be hoping to shrug off in Canberra.
With Navdeep Saini enduring two forgettable outings, and given the fact that the fast bowler had complained of back spasm prior to the start of the series, India might be tempted to rest Saini for the final ODI.
If they do that, they’ll have two alternatives to choose from- Shardul Thakur or the rookie T Natarajan. Given the fact that Natarajan with his left-arm angle brings a much-needed variety to the bowling attack, it wouldn’t be a bad choice if India hands a debut to the rookie fast bowler from Tamil Nadu.
You can very well imagine the teams’ fortunes when the leader of their bowling group is struggling in the manner in which Jasprit Bumrah has during this series.
Bumrah has looked a pale shadow of his former self in ODI cricket this year- against New Zealand in February and in the ongoing series- managing just three wickets in his last 8 outings. In the last game, Bumrah conceded 79 runs in his 10 overs and claimed a solitary wicket in his last over. India will hope that champion fast bowler shrug off the indifferent performances and stages a comeback in Canberra.