India take on Australia in the third One-Day International (ODI) at Mohali on Saturday. The seven-match series is locked in at 1-1 after India’s thumping victory in the second ODI at Jaipur on Wednesday. The top three Indian batsmen were on top form on a track that offered little assistance to the bowlers.
While the Indian bowlers too fared poorly, they would’ve taken solace from the performance of their counterparts. Barring Bhuvneshwar Kumar, no other bowler gave away less than six runs an over in the match.
The performance of the Australian bowlers was in stark contrast to what they managed at Pune in the first ODI. With Mitchell Johnson being assigned the role to intimidate the Indian batsmen, he would relish the task in hand at the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) Stadium on October 19.
For India, questions have already been raised over the selection of Ishant Sharma and R Vinay Kumar’s presence in the side. While Virat Kohli gave a valid argument in favour of Ishant stating that two poor performances is not good enough to drop a player, it would be interesting to note who makes way for Jaydev Unadkat, if Mahendra Singh Dhoni opts to make a change in the pace attack. However, he would be aware of the fact that the show in Jaipur wouldn’t be a good yardstick.
On the batting front, the Indian top order put up a convincing show in the second encounter to prove that the failure in Pune was just a one-off blip. With everyone, barring Suresh Raina and Dhoni already having a decent score against their name, the line-up looks well set and deadly. If there were any doubts after the first match, it was put to rest with a superlative performance, enough to convince the opposition that no score on the board is safe enough with the kind of batting line-up they have.
At the same time, the Australian batsmen have put up a better show than expected. They have a well-set opening pair in Aaron Finch and Phil Hughes. Shane Watson’s return to form too augurs well for the team. However, it is skipper George Bailey who will be their trump card in the matches to follow. He has been in absolute command of his batting irrespective of the situation. With Glenn Maxwell proving effective towards the end of the innings, they have a decent line-up to boast of.
However, Bailey would look to use the all-round services of Maxwell better, especially as a bowler. Although he showed good leadership skills in Pune when Australia clinched the match, it would take some thinking to outwit Dhoni.
The positive momentum gained by Australia from the victory in Pune has almost reversed after the battering received at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium on Wednesday. It would need another brilliant team or individual performance by the visitors to gain that momentum back.
(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!)