With persistent showers at Cuttack, the possibility of an encounter between India and Australia at the Barabati Stadium on Saturday remains in doubt.
After rains marred the fourth One-Day International (ODI) between the two teams at Ranchi, India would have to win the remaining two matches in the series if the conditions at Cuttack continues to remain the same.
Odisha Cricket Association (OCA) Secretary Asirbad Behar told PTI on Friday, “The ground is completely waterlogged and chances of its drying up are extremely remote. The pitch is safe, but the total outfield might cause harm for the fielders.”
However, if play is possible, Mahendra Singh Dhoni would look to sort out the problems in the bowling department.
Shami Ahmed’s opening spell did provide some consolation to an otherwise disappointing bowling performance by the hosts in the series. While Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s exclusion came as a surprise, R Vinay Kumar would consider himself lucky if he is given a longer rope.
Jaydev Unadkat, too, didn’t make the best use of the opportunity in overcast conditions at Ranchi and his pace would be a cause of concern for the Indian skipper who seems to be out of options in the pace department.
In the spin department, Ravichandran Ashwin has looked out of sorts and failed to hit the right rhythm. He has bowled a defensive line and that wouldn’t be pleasing for Dhoni as the Australian batsmen have dominated in the middle overs. George Bailey and Glenn Maxwell’s form isn’t going to help India either given the mediocre performances on display.
Amit Mishra, who has been on an impressive run starting from the Indian Premier League, might be tried out in the fifth encounter ahead of the Tamil Nadu spinner. Ravindra Jadeja, on the other hand, has done well and would play a key role as the second spinner with support from the part-time bowling of Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina.
The batting looks well set, with the top three — Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli — in good form barring odd failures. Dhoni too showed at Mohali why he is the best finisher in the business.
Raina and Yuvraj are yet to hit form in the ODI series and both southpaws would be keen to make a mark in the tournament.
For Australia, an in-form Bailey will continue to remain the key while a lot will also be riding on the opening pair of Aaron Finch and Phil Hughes. If they get going and put on a big partnership, the India’s frail bowling attack will find it tough to keep the visitors away from another 300-plus total.
However, all the strategies would be thrown out of the window if rain continues to play spoilsport.
India (probable): Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni (c & wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Shami Ahmed, R Vinay Kumar, Jaidev Unadkat.
Australia (probable): Aaron Finch, Phil Hughes, Shane Watson, George Bailey (c), Glenn Maxwell, Adam Voges, Brad Haddin (wk), James Faulkner, Mitchell Johnson, Clint McKay, Xavier Doherty.
(Aayush Puthran is a reporter with CricketCountry. Mercurially jovial, pseudo pompous, perpetually curious and occasionally confused, he is always up for a light-hearted chat over a few cups of filter kaapi!)