India vs Australia: WC Preps Continue as Kohli & Co Eye 2-0 Lead
Will KL Rahul get a look-in? Could Rishabh Pant get his game-time? Preview to the second ODI at Nagpur on 5 March.
- India take on Australia in their second ODI at Nagpur’s VCA Stadium on Tuesday, 5 March.
- Kedar Jadhav’s all-round heroics drove India to a 1-0 lead with a six-wicket win in the series-opener at Hyderabad.
- Ongoing five-match series is India’s final international assignment ahead of the ICC World Cup 2019.
Auditions for World Cup hopefuls will continue but India will also be aiming at producing another complete performance against Australia in the second ODI at Nagpur on Tuesday, 5 March.
Virat Kohli’s side ticked more than a few boxes in a six-wicket win to open the five-match series at Hyderabad on Saturday, 2 March – a welcome result after going down 2-0 in the preceding T20I series.
With this India’s final assignment ahead of the ICC World Cup 2019, the hosts are hoping to get closer to finalising the few remaining berths in an otherwise settled squad for their all-important trip to England.
Will Rahul Get a Chance?
Shikhar Dhawan failed in Hyderabad, but the opener is likely to get another game to address a relatively lean patch of form in recent outings. That, in turn, means the chances of KL Rahul getting a game appear bleak. If given a shot, Rahul will be eager to carry on the momentum he built with two fluent showings in the T20Is.
Vice-captain Rohit Sharma has gone eight ODI innings without a hundred – ‘lean’ by his lofty standards – since his 133 against the same opponents at Sydney in January.
Skipper Kohli has crossed 40 in all five of his ODI outings since his last century (104 vs Australia, Adelaide), but in a 'dip' of sorts – he averages 59.42 in the 50-over game – only surpassed 50 once.
Kohli and Sharma's numbers, alone, make for ominous signs from an Australian perspective.
The Indian top-order also boasts a formidable record in their limited outings at Nagpur’s VCA Stadium.
Ambati Rayudu failed in the first game, but knowing his abilities and the backing he has from the team management, his place in the XI doesn't seem to be in danger.
Kedar Jadhav, who was Player of the Match at Hyderabad, has pretty much sealed the number six position – down in no small part to his befuddling right-arm off-breaks, in addition to his poise as a finisher.
37-year-old MS Dhoni has been in prime form since the turn of the year – four half-centuries, three of them unbeaten, in four innings against Australia, in addition to a 48 not out against New Zealand, in a total of six ODI innings in 2019 – and every good outing only further boosts the confidence of India's 2011 World Cup-winning captain.
Is There Room for Pant, Chahal?
The only way young Rishabh Pant can find a spot in the playing XI, seemingly, would be at the expense of all-rounder Vijay Shankar; but that would leave India requiring a full quota of 10 overs from Jadhav, and appears an unlikely option.
The Indian bowling, spearheaded by death-overs specialist Jasprit Bumrah, has been impeccable in recent times – reflected in how they restricted the Aussies to a middling 236/7 in the first ODI.
Mohammed Shami is making himself a more lethal weapon in Kohli’s armoury with every passing game, and now has 16 wickets in 8 ODIs this year at an average of 20.81 and an economy of 4.84.
Chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav continued his effectiveness in the middle overs with a spell of 2/46 at Hyderabad, but it will be interesting to see if he gets to rekindle his hugely successful pairing with fellow wrist-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal. Chahal's inclusion, however, can only come with an axing of Ravindra Jadeja – whose miserly return of 0/33 earned Kohli’s praise.
What do Australia Change?
Their lack of defining partnerships, for one. While hoping, desperately, for Aaron Finch to strike form.
The Australian captain has totalled a meagre 26 runs in four ODIs in 2019 – all against India. In the preceding T20Is, too, the 32-year-old returned scores of 0 and 8.
Usman Khawaja, Glenn Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis – all experienced campaigners in their own right – threw away their wickets after getting set, and will hope for bigger scores.
That, arguably, is the greater concern for the visitors; in ODIs since the start of 2018, India’s first five partnerships have out-scored their Australian counterparts by more than 110 runs per match.
On the bowling front, leg-spinner Adam Zampa troubled the Indian batsmen and will be key to Australia’s fortunes. He will hope for better support from the pacers, in particular Pat Cummins and Nathan Coulter-Nile.
Australia could consider bringing in Andrew Tye, who has ample IPL experience, to tweak their pace attack.
India: Virat Kohli (captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Ambati Rayudu, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wk), Kedar Jadhav, Vijay Shankar, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Rishabh Pant, Siddarth Kaul, KL Rahul, Ravindra Jadeja.
Australia: Aaron Finch (captain), D'Arcy Short, Shaun Marsh, Marcus Stoinis, Usman Khawaja, Alex Carey, Peter Handscomb, Ashton Turner, Adam Zampa, Jason Behrendorff, Jhye Richardson, Pat Cummins, Andrew Tye, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Nathan Lyon.
In ODIs at VCA Stadium, Nagpur
India: Played 5, Won 3, Lost 2, Win Rate 60%.
Australia: Played 4, Won 1, Lost 3, Win Rate 25%.
D/N ODIs at VCA Stadium, Nagpur
Won Batting 1st: 1
Won Batting 2nd: 5
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