Team India will take the field in the fourth ODI to salvage some pride. © Getty Images.
Team India will take the field in the fourth ODI to salvage some pride. © Getty Images.

With the series already sealed in the third One-Day International (ODI) in Melbourne, India and Australia will now meet in first of the two dead-rubbers to be played in Canberra and Sydney, when they play the 4th ODI in the Australian capital. It has been one-way traffic so far, with the same script repeating in all three matches. India bats first, posts a total around 300 on the board and then their bowlers fail to defend it; this has been the story of the series as yet. An under-fire MS Dhoni did make some changes in the third ODI, but they only proved fatal, as Ravichandran Ashwin’s absence was deeply felt. His bowlers and fielders have let him down and have failed to stop the Australian juggernaut. Will he be able to pull the rabbit out of the hat in the fourth ODI is the question on everyone’s mind. The series loss means this is the time to experiment, opines Chinmay Jawalekar, who takes a look at India’s likely XI for the 4th ODI. Live Cricket Scorecard: India vs Australia 2015-16, 4th ODI at Canberra.

Engine-room: Two of the three batsmen, who form the engine-room, pick themselves automatically. With 301 runs from three matches and an average of over 150, Rohit Sharma is the top run-getter so far. It seems the lady-luck is shining on him, as he is on the first tour after marriage and has done exceptionally well in his outings. Rohit, who has two hundreds and a solitary failure in the series to his name, has been phenomenal at the top of the order in limited-overs cricket for India for some time now. He will once again be the centre of focus as India look to topple the opposition for the first time in the series. ALSO READ: India vs Australia 2015-16, 3rd ODI at Melbourne: Five reasons why India lost.

If Rohit is topping the batting charts, Virat Kohli is not far behind. With two half-centuries and a hundred in the last game, Kohli is second on the list of most run-getters in the series. His 267 runs have come at an average of 89 and strike rate of just above 95. India will once again bank on these two to get a good start. Anybody but Shikhar Dhawan deserves the remaining slot in the top-three. It is high-time the beleaguered opener — who managed a scratchy 91-ball 68 (one of the reasons India lost) in the third ODI after coming under heavy criticism — is dropped from the side. India do have options in Manish Pandey and Ajinkya Rahane who can fill in the void.

Middle-order: Rahane has been the unsung hero for India across formats in last 18 months or so. Yet the irony is that the unlucky batsman has to prove himself all over again every time he comes out to bat. Dhoni has openly criticised Rahane’s ability to rotate strike and build the innings on slow tracks. But the Mumbai batsman has proved his worth on every single occasion and in this series too, he has been amongst the runs with scoring at a near-70 average. He can be a floater as has opened too on several occasions and in the fourth game, he will bat at No. 4 if he does not open. ALSO READ: India vs Australia 2015-16, 4th ODI at Canberra: Virat Kohli vs James Faulkner, MS Dhoni vs John Hastings and other likely key battles.

Just like Pandey, who had a single outing with 10-odd balls left in the innings, Gurkeerat too has not got enough time in the middle to prove his ability. He did hit a fine boundary on his debut in the last game and also bowled five overs of innocuous off-spin, but on the whole, it was not the kind of start the youngster would have hoped for to his career. With the series done and dusted, he must be played in Canberra with an eye on the future. He, along with Dhoni — who hit a vintage 9-ball 23 in the last game — should complete the middle-order.

All-rounders/Spinners: Dhoni had to face uproar from all quarters as he dropped Ashwin from the playing XI for the last game; a move that backfired as Ravindra Jadeja did well on the track, suggesting things could have been different with Ashwin around. He would not want to repeat the same mistake, and that means poor Rishi Dhawan might have to sit out after an ordinary debut. Though Dhoni did speak encouraging words for Rishi after the match, the latter might make way for Ashwin just for the sake of team combination. At the same time, the possibility of both Ashwin and Rishi playing and Gurkeerat missing out cannot be ruled out. ALSO READ: Nathan Lyon’s delayed inclusion strengthens Australia further against India.

Pacers: The pacers have been a huge let down so far. In the last game too, when India were expected to win after reducing Australia to 6 for 216 in pursuit of 296, the experienced duo of Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav failed to live up to the expectations. As has been the story so far, the two were at the extremes — either brilliant or pathetic. They bowled some exceptional deliveries, only to follow them up with erratic ones and gave boundary-balls virtually after every three-four balls. Despite what has transpired so far, the two are India’s best bet from the available resources and likely to retain their positions.

Barinder Sran had an off-day in Melbourne, but dropping the youngster will only demoralise him. Also being the left-handed pacer, he adds variety to the attack. Thus, Sran should complete the XI. However, if there is a change to be made to work-out a winning combination, Bhuvneshwar Kumar can be included in place of either Ishant or Umesh. It will be interesting to see how Dhoni approaches the remaining inconsequential games. What combination he comes up with, will be clear on Wednesday morning, when he walks out for the toss and lets the world know whether a rabbit is pulled out of the hat or not.

India likely XI for 4th ODI (in batting order): Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan/Manish Pandey, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, MS Dhoni (c&wk), Gurkeerat Singh/Rishi Dhawan, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ishant Sharma/Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav and Barinder Sran.

(A self-confessed cricket freak, Chinmay Jawalekar is a senior writer with CricLife and CricketCountry. When not writing or following cricket, he loves to read, eat and sleep. He can be followed here @CricfreakTweets)