India vs Australia: Second ODI Preview

Batsman faces bowler in front of packed cordon

Jonhenry Wilson takes a look at the second ODI between India and Australia set to be played at Eden Gardens on Thursday 21 September. 

Buoyed by the momentum gained during a five-nil series victory over Sri Lanka recently, the hosts are now targeting an eighth consecutive ODI victory.

Entirely outgunned by Hardik Pandya in the series opener in Chennai last week, the visitors will be hard pressed to turn the result around at Eden Gardens.

India v Australia | Thursday, 21 September | Eden Gardens, Kolkata | 10:00

To Win Match
India 62/100 | Tie 35/1 | Australia 27/20

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Pandya is quickly becoming limited-overs cricket's latest marvel - and the Indian XI can no longer consider his selection and option, but rather a must. He was tremendous with the bat in the first ODI, almost single-handedly resurrecting a spluttering innings. The talented seamer followed that up with two key wickets. His role, again, will be key - and the opposition need to find a way to suppress both.

The home side's choice to deploy Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav in tandem - and leave Axar Patel on the sidelines - is intriguing, and should continue this week. Partnering two wrist spinners speaks volumes of India's willingness to experiment in the absence of Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin. Australia's right-handers, meanwhile, need to successfully negotiate the ball turning away from them.

The experimentation can continue in the batting order, too, with KL Rahul perhaps afforded a game ahead of Manish Pandey. While Ajinkya Rahane is being allowed ample opportunity during Shikhar Dhawan's leave, Rahul is getting shortchanged. Blessed with an abundance of batting talent, India have to find a way to keep individuals content within the collective.

India's ODI record at Thursday's venue isn't as sound as one might expect. Their last 10 ODIs here, in fact, have brought just four wins. Australia's previous ODI at Eden Gardens was in 2003, when the part-time spin of Michael Clarke and Andrew Symonds yielded success for the visitors. The Aussies, then, would do well to look to Glenn Maxwell with the ball this time.

Maxwell, indeed, has to be given some overs in Kolkata. Adam Zampa operated in a vacuum in Chepauk, where the leg-spinner's flight and misdirection cost the Australians heavily. If Ashton Agar is not selected, Maxwell's support role in the spin ranks will go a long way in righting Zampa's wrongs.

All eyes will be on Nathan Coulter-Nile again. The seamer, thanks largely to his experience of conditions gained during the Indian Premier League earlier this year, was superb. He generated challenging swing, which largely flummoxed the Indian order - including Virat Kohli, who will be eager to bounce back from a rare duck.

Hilton Cartwright's elevation to the top of the order was a relatively peculiar move and, with Aaron Finch still sidelined, the visitors should push Travis Head to the helm and send Cartwright to the middle order. Head is pretty much an untapped resource at international level - and a gem might be unearthed if given enough freedom to perform.

With one eye on the Ashes, the Australians will be keen to dampen the exploits of a rather deep opposition batting order, which they'll likely encounter against an England XI laden with all-rounders, too. An improvement in catching will certainly help, after Steven Smith dropped two relatively straightforward chances in Chennai.

Verdict: India 62/100
Venues at which India don't have, at least, a 50 percent winning record are rare. Thursday won't bring the home side more wins than losses at Eden Gardens, but certainly a step closer to swinging the ratio.

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Written by Jonhenry Wilson for Hollywoodbets

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