India vs Australia: Time for final experiment as India aims to seal series

India targets a better all-round performance in the fourth ODI in Mohali.

India skipper Virat Kohli arrives in Chandigarh ahead of the fourth ODI against Australia.   -  Akhilesh Kumar

At first look, the beleaguered Australian side contesting the One-Day International (ODI) series in a bid to challenge the mighty India in its own backyard seemed barely recognisable as the reigning world champion.

However, none of the contests so far have been one-sided, and after three ODIs, the series is still alive.

Having resuscitated itself with a narrow win in Ranchi, Australia has the chance of leveling the series at the PCA Stadium – a venue particularly favourable to it.

It has won five of the six ODIs it has played here; in 2013, it defeated India by four wickets, thanks to a blitzkrieg by James Faulkner.

READ: Dhoni to be rested for the remaining Australia ODIs

Moreover, with M. S. Dhoni rested for the rest of the series and other changes in the Indian XI likely, Australia can look to unsettle India further.

The top-order performance for the home side hasn’t particular been convincing, and if it bats second here, Pat Cummins & Co. may be quite a handful.

There is still some nip in the air here in the evenings, and with enough space for the breeze to come in – the stands are erected low – Cummins will like bowling under lights, particularly early on.

He is fine form, too; in conditions far from favourable for fast bowlers, he has shown good adaptability skills to claim seven wickets so far, at a laudable economy rate of 4.09.

India eyes to arrest batting slide

For India, arresting batting slide will be important. Captain Virat Kohli pointed to it after the loss on Friday; if not for him, India may have been behind in the rubber at this stage.

The problem begins at the top. Neither of the openers are in form; Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma have combined total of 72 runs in the three matches.

Shikhar Dhawan's poor form continues to hurt India.   -  AP

 

The PCA Stadium will be an ideal venue for Rohit to make his first big score of this series. In the last ODI here, in 2017, he scored his third double-century in the format, annihilating Sri Lanka in a one-sided contest. Like then, the pitch could be placid this time, too.

Shikhar, too, has good memories of Mohali. In 2013, he scored the fastest century on Test debut against Australia.

Their return to form would reduce the burden on Kohli, whose centuries kept India afloat in Nagpur and in Ranchi.

The fact that none of India’s batsmen – barring him – figure in the top four among the highest run getters in the series, demonstrates India’s over-reliance on him.

With the ball, Kuldeep Yadav has been prolific, but he has also been profligate at times. On Sunday, his role will be crucial once again.

Its seam attack may differ from the rest of the series, as the team management throws in its final experiments ahead of the World Cup. Mohammed Shami may make way for Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who had been rested for the first two ODIs.

Australia, on the other hand, isn’t likely to bring in changes, especially after a morale-boosting victory and with a series loss at stake.

Finch’s return to form augurs well for the side. A solid base given at the top could clear the decks for the potent middle-order to provide finishing touches. Glenn Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis, in particular, are capable of spectacular fireworks with the bat.

They will especially relish the opportunity to bat on a pitch less slow than in the other contests and provide some headaches for the home side.

TEAMS  (From)

India: Virat Kohli (c), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Ambati Rayudu, Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Vijay Shankar, K. L. Rahul, Rishabh Pant (wk).

Australia: Aaron Finch (c), Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, Peter Handscomb, Glenn Maxwell, D'Arcy Short, Marcus Stoinis, Alex Carey (wk), Pat Cummins, Jason Behrendorff, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Nathan Lyon, Jhye Richardson, Kane Richardson, Ashton Turner, Adam Zampa.

Match starts at 1.30 pm.

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