India will be hoping to avoid a whitewash © Getty Images
India will be hoping to avoid a whitewash © Getty Images

India and Australia will face off in the fifth and final One-Day International (ODI) at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) on Saturday. The Indians were punched out at Perth, swept aside at Brisbane, gut-kicked at Melbourne, and then pile-driven at Canberra. Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma have been India’s shining lights, with noteworthy contributions from Shikhar Dhawan and Ajinkya Rahane. Barring the four of them, however, the rest of the Indian squad have painted a remorseful picture. On the other hand, Australia have been a class apart with the bat while also managing to show fight with the ball. Live Cricket Scorecard: India vs Australia 2015-16, 5th ODI at Sydney

MS Dhoni has looked a pale shadow of his former self, not only with the bat but also in the field. It has been his uninspiring captaincy combined with ridiculous indiscipline from the bowling unit that has caused India to be 4-0 down in the series. Dhoni has made some strange selection calls — such as dropping Ravichandran Ashwin after the second ODI and playing the combined inexperience of Rishi Dhawan and Gurkeerat Singh — and has been unimaginative as captain. READ: India vs Australia 2015-16, 5th ODI at Sydney: Likely XI for the visitors

India have not won a bilateral ODI series under Dhoni since they beat West Indies in 2014. In the interim they beat Sri Lanka 5-0 under Kohli and Zimbabwe 3-0 under Rahane. It should be noted that India under Dhoni had a fantastic run during ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, winning seven matches (and bowling out the opposition in each of those games) on the trot. However, that was followed by a 1-2 drubbing against Bangladesh, which took some sheen off their performance. India must regroup and find it in themselves to come back from the humiliating defeat of the fourth ODI. READ: India prove they don’t learn from mistakes

India will need to make a few changes for the final ODI if they want to avoid the whitewash. Ashwin and Barinder Sran could possibly return at cost of Gurkeerat and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, while Manish Pandey will almost certainly play for the injured Rahane. READ: India must look to the past in order to secure their future after shocking loss to Australia in 4th ODI at Canberra

In stark contrast, Australia have been superb with the bat throughout the series, but also showed remarkable fight with the ball at Canberra. Seeing the opposition sit pretty at 277 for 1 would have demoralised a lesser team, but Steven Smith’s confidence has radiated into his team so much that the shoulders never drooped. Kane Richardson responded with a five-wicket haul that will be talked about for years, and Australia — in true never-say-die attitude — clawed back from the brink to take a spectacular victory. READ: India’s shocking losses: 6 times defeat was grabbed from the jaws of victory

It is unlikely the hosts will make any major differences, which means the in-form Shaun Marsh will continue to warm the bench. Australia’s pace bowling has not been particularly impressive barring John Hastings and Richardson after the last match, but they have been enough to keep India to just less than they need.

Australia are clear favourites ahead of the final ODI, and have a strong chance of making it a 5-0 whitewash. India will need to go above and beyond in order to pull off their first victory against Australia in Australia since 2012. India will need to show immense mental fortitude.


India: Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Manish Pandey, MS Dhoni (c & wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Akshar Patel, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Rishi Dhawan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Barinder Sran.

Australia: Aaron Finch, Usman Khawaja, Steven Smith (c), Shaun Marsh, Mitchell Marsh, George Bailey, Glenn Maxwell, Matthew Wade (wk), James Faulkner, Kane Richardson, Josh Hazlewood, Scott Boland, Joel Paris, John Hastings, Nathan Lyon, David Warner.

Time: 8:50 IST | 3:20 GMT

(Shiamak Unwalla, a reporter with CricketCountry, is a self-confessed Sci-Fi geek who loves cricket more than cricketers. His Twitter handle is @ShiamakUnwalla)