Having been let down by the bowling department in the first three One-Day Internationals (ODIs), Team India hopes for a miracle with the ball when they take on Australia in the fourth game of the seven-match series, at skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s home town Ranchi.
It has been a disastrous show so far by the Indian bowlers, allowing Australia to score in excess of 300 in all three matches, and not having bowled them out even once.
There are four Australians among the top five wicket-takers from both sides in the series, indicating how badly the Indian bowlers have fared in familiar conditions. Ishant Sharma and R Vinay Kumar have flopped terribly, and with the former’s 48th over of the Mohali ODI costing India the match, seam bowling turns out to be the biggest worry for Dhoni and the team management.
India, known for its heavy reliance over the spinners hasn’t been served well in this department as well. Ravichandran Ashwin has only three scalps to his name in as many games and Ravindra Jadeja too has been unimpressive.
For the home side which is trailing 1-2 in the series, the batting has been the only bright spot with their top order going all guns blazing against a well-planned Australian bowling attack.
Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Dhoni have registered a century each in the series so far, which bodes well for the Indian batting department. But, the way the Australian bowlers have dominated and exploited the weakness of a few Indian batsmen such as Suresh Raina and Yuvraj Singh against the short ball, it signals warning signs in case the top-order stutters.
Raina (39, DNB, 17) hasn’t converted starts into big scores whereas Yuvraj (7, DNB, 0) too has failed to impress. All-rounder Jadeja is going through a lean patch as well, with 11 in the first ODI being his highest score.
While India have retained the squad for the remainder of the series, it is likely that struggling Ishant and Vinay Kumar make way for the others.
On the other hand, Australia find themselves in a comfortable position with all their departments chipping in with their bit. The settled opening pair of in-form batsmen Aaron Finch and Phil Hughes has performed well, whereas the middle-order consisting George Bailey, Shane Watson and Glenn Maxwell has shown that they have the potential to put up big scores after a strong start.
Australia’s strategy has been to see off few initial overs and then open up — proven by Finch and Hughes’s two half-century and a century stand for the first wicket. India would certainly aim to get a wicket or two early on, in order to break Australia’s momentum.
Bailey has been splendid on this tour of India — the Australian captain not only has two half-centuries to his credit but has taken big leaps as a leader. The way Australian bowlers have performed so far with Bailey utilising the ‘intimidator’ Mitchell Johnson to the fullest, deserves all the plaudits.
The success of James Faulkner would certainly have raised Australia’s hopes of having in-form cricketers for the Ashes 2013-14 series, and Faulkner would aim to consolidate his case.
While Australia will fancy their chances once again with their all-round abilities, Dhoni-led India will have to get their act together in order to bounce back once again in the series as they trail for the second time in the seven-match affair.