India lead 5-match series 2-0    AFP
India lead 5-match series 2-0 AFP

Spectators had flocked by thousands to Holkar Stadium in Indore when India hosted New Zealand in a Test match last year. The format, which had been gradually losing fans after the game entered a new millennium called T20, witnessed the names of Indian cricketers echoing through the land of C.K Nayudu, the country s first Test captain.

A year later, Madhya Pradesh Cricket Association (MCPA) was forced to shut down the ticket sales, as the fans came in large numbers. The officials said that a few women queued up throughout the night with their kids.

The occasion this time is an ODI encounter between India and Australia.

News from the middle

We have used black cotton soil, brought from different parts of Madhya Pradesh. In this weather, it won’t crumble and it won’t be very dry. It has capacity to hold water but it will be good for the wrist spinners, said pitch curator Samandar Singh Chauhan.

The keyword here is wrist spinners, and India have two of them, Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav, both with different nature of bowling, actions, and approach.

The wrist-spin duo has taken 5 wickets each, that is, 53 per cent of Australian wickets. If Chauhan s words are to be believed, the duo will yet again incur the most damage to visitors. Although Kuldeep has been way less economical than Chahal, the Chinaman has the knack of taking everyone by surprise. His hat-track at the iconic Eden Gardens is evidence to the very fact.

Damage control

We’ve had a lot of collapses we need to stop. It’s just easy to just sit here and say it needs to stay but when you get out in the middle, you’ve to change what you’re doing because it’s not working, said Steven Smith after the consecutive loss.

While it was Glenn Maxwell who boggled the Indians with belligerent brand of cricket, the captain himself gave his all to pull his team back from wrecking. That being said, none of the men could control the damage. There were buried under defeat eventually.

Game plan

Bhuvneshwar Kumar was unlucky to have not received Man of the Match for his brilliant bowling figures of 6.1-2-9-3. Although Virat Kohli s 92 on a two-paced track was commendable, bowling economically and simultaneously taking wickets against the rampant Australian top-order was no lesser track. However, captain s words of praises must have brought honour to Bhuvi.

The deliveries he [Bhuvi] got the batsmen out with were unplayable. You can count on Bhuvi for getting the breakthroughs, said Kohli.

Bhuvi s fellow pacer Jasprit Bumrah has got only a wicket, but the youngster was Man of the Series not too long ago. It is a matter of time that his death-bowling services will take India out of the woods.

Then there is Hardik Pandya to complete the five-bowler army.

On the other hand, India s batting remains the same. Shikhar Dhawan continues to remain unavailable, as he is with his ailing wife.

Likely XI for India: Rohit Sharma (vc), Ajinkya Rahane, Virat Kohli (c), Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah

If India have two wrist-spinners, Australia should not squander making leg-spinner Adam Zampa serve drinks to his tired comrades. Pandya may have obliterated him with four sixes at Chennai, but don t the spinners anyway face the wrath oozing out of the big bats these days? Come to think of it, no one but Zampa himself stopped the Pandya carnage.

If India can dare to invest two spots for wrist spinners, why should Australia take the defensive approach?

Left-arm orthodox Ashton Agar did his bit in the middle overs, choking the Indian batsmen and taking away the momentum. He deserves one more chance to showcase his skills.

This means, Australia will be going with two-spin attack, leaving out either of the pacers.

Nathan-Coulter has been Australia s best bowler thus far, dismissing Kohli twice and in all taking 6 wickets. He remains in the team.

Patt Cummins was unsuccessful in the opener, and took a solitary wicket at Kolkata. However, his economies read 4.4 and 3.4. But did that take Australia over the line?

Surprisingly, Australia dropped all-rounder James Faulkner at the expense of Kane Richardson. As baffling it sounds, it did not anyway make their situation better. Richardson took 3 wickets, but was ineffective with the bat, in a game that eventually saw Australia one short of a batsman. When Marcus Stoinis gave a scare to the Indians, the Australians wished if they had one more batsman, the one who could stitch that crucial partnership. The target, after all, was gettable.

That, however, puts us in further enigma. Whom do we drop? In that case, Aaron Finch was seen comfortably running on the field while he carried drinks and messages. Hilton Cartwright takes his place on the bench.

Likely XI for Australia: Aaron Finch, David Warner (vc), Steven Smith (c), Travis Head, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade, James Faulkner, Ashton Agar, Adam Zampa, Nathan Coulter-Nile

TIME: 13.30 IST | 08:00 GMT