Having gathered steam in the final leg of its World Cup preparations, India could seal another morale-boosting series win when it hosts Australia in the second ODI at the Holkar Stadium in Indore on Sunday.
While Friday’s defeat prompted Australia skipper Pat Cummins to exhort the necessity of rhythm heading into the World Cup, a day’s break might not be enough for the visitor to replenish its batteries.
Australia remains depleted on resources, with Cummins suggesting that fellow pacer Mitchell Starc and Glenn Maxwell may only be available for the final ODI in Rajkot on September 27.
On a four-match losing streak now, Australia faces India precisely six years after their first meeting at the venue, where another batting beauty will greet the sides.
With the average first-innings score standing tall at 320 after six ODIs at the ground, both teams will need to firm up their bowling stocks.
Barring Cummins, Australia’s pacers lacked teeth on a hard surface in Mohali against the classy Indian openers, Shubman Gill and Ruturaj Gaikwad. Despite a middle-order wobble, India managed to stroll through the chase later, with captain KL Rahul and Suryakumar Yadav manoeuvering easily against Sean Abbott and Marcus Stoinis.
Conditions could be muggy and humid again, and India would likely reshuffle its seamers. One of Jasprit Bumrah or Mohammad Shami could make way for an in-form Mohammed Siraj.
Shardul Thakur, a likely feature in India’s probable first eleven for the World Cup, will be in focus after a pale outing (none for 78 in 10 overs) and Shami’s five-wicket haul in the series opener.
Though ahead in the pecking order with his batting skills, Thakur would want to better his returns on the bowling front, especially on true-bounce surfaces where a lack of pace and variety could prove detrimental.
The Mumbaikar could draw inspiration from his previous outing at the venue, where he finished with figures of three for 45 as India defended a mammoth 385-run total against New Zealand earlier this year.
Gill, a centurion (112 off 78) in that match, could be the thorn in Australia’s flesh again as runs are writ large over the contest.
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