India Can Jump to Number One Ranking If They Beat Aus in Kolkata

India take on Australia in the second ODI in Kolkata on Thursday.

4 min read
Virat Kohli and Kuldeep Yadav share a moment during an ODI.

The Indian team will expect their top order batsmen to make amends for a rare poor show in the series opener and hope that the spinners continue to torment Australia when the two teams clash in the second ODI in Kolkata on Thursday.

The Australians are struggling against India's new spin duo of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal and the hosts would like to ensure that it doesn't get any easy as the series progresses.

Yadav is proving to be a mystery for the Aussies, who have also struggled to pick Chahal's sliders. The visitors were seen taking the help of local wrist spinners to find tricks to counter the Indian bowlers.

While Kerala's KK Jiyas helped them before the Chennai ODI, two local club bowlers –Ashutosh Shibram and Rupak Guha – provided some practice to the Aussie batsmen. Chasing a revised target of 164 in 21 overs in the rain- interrupted first ODI, Aussies were 35 for four before Glenn Maxwell's power-hitting raised hopes of an unlikely win. But Chahal and Yadav went about their task meticulously to seal a 26-run win via the DLS method.

ICC ODI rankings as of Thursday morning.
ICC ODI rankings as of Thursday morning.

Top Spot on The Line

There is also the matter of a top ODI ranking on the line in Kolkata today. If India win the match, Virat Kohli’s team leapfrog South Africa to become number 1 in the ICC standings.

Both teams were tied at 117 points at the start of the series but an Indian victory in Chennai gave India one vital point and took their tally to 118. Australia dropped with 116 points.

With South Africa staying stagnant on 119 points, if India win today, they tie the Proteas at 119 but claim the top spot on decimal points.

File photo of Yuzvendra Chahal.
File photo of Yuzvendra Chahal.
(Photo: AP)

The Aussies have a bigger threat to contend with in Hardik Pandya who steered India to a respectable 281 for seven from a precarious 76/6.

Pandya hit another hat-trick of sixes – four times in international cricket – as he smashed 83 from 66 balls in a match-turning 118-run partnership with MS Dhoni (79 from 88).

Pandya's rise since IPL 2015 has been remarkable. From being a careless hitter to restraining his shots in the V, Pandya has matured as a player.

He has also emerged as the utility medium-pace all- rounder that India have been searching for a long time.

His knock in Chennai not only seized the momentum but had a demoralising effect on Australia's leading spinner Adam Zampa who was left ruing his "lengths".

It remains to be seen how the Australian spin resources challenge the formidable Indian batting line up. The visitors have three part-time tweakers in Glenn Maxwell, Travis Head and Ashton Agar.

 Adam Zampa celebrates a wicket with his teammates.
Adam Zampa celebrates a wicket with his teammates.
(Photo: BCCI)
We have enough variation in our attack but it’s about executing your plans. In Australia you can mess up your length a little bit and you will probably get away with it purely because of the (size of ground). Here the length is very important.
Adam Zampa

It is also a challenging time for skipper Steve Smith, who needs to lead from the front. David Warner also must fire to set the foundation.

Looking at Hilton Cartwright's plight in the top order in Chennai, it won't be a bad ploy to hand the opening slot to Travis Head, who scored a promising 65 in their 103-run win in the warm up match against Board President's XI.

Should Australia move Head to the opening slot, either Glenn Maxwell or Marcus Stoinis would be in line to fill the number four slot where they have already experimented six players since George Bailey was dropped earlier this year.

Known to thrive on their all-rounders, the Aussies will also look for significant contributions from the likes of James Faulkner, Stoinis and Maxwell.

File photo of MS Dhoni.
File photo of MS Dhoni.
(Photo: BCCI)

As for India’s batting, it's really a healthy sign that their lower-order is living up to the challenge after the failure of the top-order. If Dhoni is back in his elements, it was also pleasing to see Bhuvneshwar Kumar's cameo of 32 not out off 30.

India would just hope for a strong start from stop gap opener Ajinkya Rahane and Rohit Sharma while skipper Kohli will also look to return among runs after his rare failure in Chennai.

Kohli has an aggregate of 1017 runs in 19 innings with four hundreds and six fifties in ODIs this year.

India and Australia will play only their second ODI at the Eden since their TVS Cup final in November 2003 but a forecast of rain is threatening to spoil the contest.

(With inputs from PTI)

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