Australia vs India | Sunday 17 January | Melbourne Cricket Ground | 05:10
India will be fighting for their lives when they take on Australia in the third of five One Day Internationals in front of a fervent Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) crowd on Sunday morning.
The Indians have to win the match if they have any hopes of securing series win against the best ODI side on the planet.
To Win Match
Australia will head into the third ODI at the MCG knowing that a win will wrap up the five-match series against a spirited Indian side on Sunday. Shaun Marsh impressed in the absence of David Warner at the Gabba on Friday in the second ODI. Opening the batting with Aaron Finch, the Perth Scorchers’ opener went on to record a solid 84-ball 71.
One feels that the Indians haven’t really felt the full force of Finch yet. After disappointing in the first ODI, the burley Aussie opener played a peculiar innings at the Gabba last time out. Starting rather tentatively, he exploded, rapidly going from 38 off 60 balls to 71 off 81 before he was dismissed. One feels that if he starts quickly and hangs around for 30-odd overs, he’ll blow the Indian attack away, extinguishing any faint hopes they would have harboured of rescuing the series.
The Aussie middle-order have also been key in the results so far. Steve Smith and George Bailey have underlined their credentials as two of the best One Day International batsmen in the world with their performances so far in the series.
Australia are likely to go ahead in the series with a massively under-strength bowling attack after selectors revealed that they would be resting Josh Hazlewood for the remainder of the summer. What this means, however, is that players like John Hastings, Scott Boland and Joel Paris will all get a decent run in the side.
Other than Hazlewood, there shouldn’t be any other changes to the Australian team moving forward. The side has been outstanding thus far with both the bowlers and batsmen proving their worth ahead of the World T20 to be held in India later this year.
The Indians haven’t played particularly badly in the first two ODIs, in both cases setting the Australians totals of 300+ to chase down. If there is one area of their game where they have been let down slightly, it’s been the bowlers’ inability to get through the Aussie’s menacing top order. The likes of Ravi Ashwin and Ravi Jadeja simply haven’t fired seamer-friendly wickets.
Perhaps, though, it’s up to the batsmen to provide bigger totals for their bowlers to defend. All eyes will be on Shikhar Dhawan. The Indian opener has had a wretched tour thus far, only managing one innings of substance – a 46-ball 76 against a largely unknown Western Australian XI. Since then, however, he’s only managed 19 runs in three games. The situation is made worse, especially considering India only have five established specialist batsmen in the squad.
If the Indians are to have any chance of setting or chasing a large total, they’re going to need Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane to continue where they left off at the Gabba last time out. Rohit in particular has been nothing short of sensational thus far, bludgeoning his way to an unbeaten 171 in the first ODI and 124 in the second. Rahane and Kohli have also looked solid when called upon, both achieving totals in excess of 50 whenever they’ve walked into the middle.
The only real problem with the Indian batting is that they’ve perhaps not scored quickly enough. Of the three above-mentioned players, only Rahane managed to score at better than a run a ball. Eating up deliveries without scoring is fatal in the modern day game – as the last two ODIs have proven.
India’s side will likely look the same heading into the third, and potentially decisive ODI. Dhoni came out saying that India will be playing with two frontline spinners and has also publically backed Dhawan to come good. The only change may see Bhuveneshwar Kumar coming into the side for Umesh Yadav.
Verdict: Australia 7/20
Although India haven’t played too badly thus far, Australia have been superior in every facet of the game. I don’t see any reason why they’d slip up at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Sunday morning. Back Steve Smith and his men to wrap the series up with their third consecutive win.