With an eye on the sky, India chases whitewash

On Wednesday, Yuzvendra Chahal made it evident that the Indian side won’t take things for granted and will hope to maintain its winning run against the Aussies at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium.

Out of the last 13 ODI outings, the Aussies have lost 11 while two have been washed out.   -  G. P. Sampath Kumar

For the last couple of days, there is just one question that’s going around in the cricketing circles of Bengaluru — will there be a game on Thursday?

The mysterious weather that the Karnataka capital city is witnessing for the last few days, such questions are quite obvious. After spells of shower, there appears a ray of sun, and as you blink, the dark clouds come back again. Then there are drizzles.

That’s how it has been.

While the weathermen say that heavy rain is expected on Thursday, when India takes on Australia for the fourth ODI, the two teams aren’t too bothered about that. If Australia aims to play for pride, India’s only objective is to press for a 5-0 whitewash.

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For that, it is ready to walk the extra mile.

In the pre-match interaction with the scribes on Wednesday, India’s talked about young spinner, Yuzvendra Chahal, made it evident that the side won’t take things for granted and will hope to maintain its winning run at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium. And that also essentially means that there would hardly be any changes to the side.

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As far as Australia is concerned, it would be hoping to get the house in order and at least put up a decent show in Bengaluru. With injured Ashton Agar ruled out with an injury, the Aussies will perhaps go back to Adam Zampa to take care of the spin department along with all-rounder Marcus Stoinis. But that would depend on how Australia decides to approach the dead-rubber.

Middle-order conundrum

For India, however, it will be another chance to get Manish Pandey and Kedar Jadhav back in shape. They have struggled in the series, and at home, the two (local boy K.L Rahul could be given a look-in) would be looking to make amends if given chances. But that apart, the focus will quintessentially be on Hardik Pandya, who has had a dream outing in the series. After the heroics in Chennai and Indore, here is another chance for the Baroda all-rounder to make the series more colourful.

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Just not that. This series has also given India a mental boost that it could go and win matches despite the absence of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja. With two wrist-spinners—Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal—in red hot form, the host side will enjoy the upper-hand over the opponent, who has struggled in the last few months. Among the 25 Australian wickets to fall in the series, 13 have gone to the spin twins.

Out of the last 13 ODI outings, the Aussies have lost 11 while two have been washed out. In India too, scenes haven’t improved, and one of its biggest concerns has been the failure of the big-hitting Glenn Maxwell.

Search for consistency

Another area that the Aussies need to address is consistency. Despite Aaron Finch’s commanding century in Indore last week, the middle-order batsmen failed to reach the 300-plus mark. That is something the skipper Steven Smith would be hoping to rectify.

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As it rained in Bengaluru on Wednesday, Australia skipped its practice session. India, however, trained for a while before light rain played spoilsport. Even as heavy downpour is in the forecast, the Karnataka State Cricket Association officials are confident of full play as the ground has a high-quality vacuum powered drainage system.

Perhaps that’s why, the excitement among the fans too hasn’t gone down a bit. When the Indian cricketers left the venue after the practice session, a large group of young fans cheered for their heroes. Even ticket sales have been quite moderate.

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In a festive season, the cricket enthusiasts would be hoping for a full game in Bengaluru to match the spectacle of the previous encounter between the two sides back in 2013.