India vs Australia: Last chance to put things right for under-pressure host

Having fumbled with bat or ball in all the four ODIs against Australia, India finds itself facing a possible series defeat at the Feroz Shah Kotla in the decider.

India skipper Virat Kohli will be keen to sign off with a series win.   -  GETTY IMAGES

The chinks in the armour are out in the open. The Indian batting order can be brittle, and the bowling can crumble under pressure.

As was demonstrated by Ashton Turner’s blitzkrieg on Sunday in Mohali, even the best of India’s bowlers — fast bowlers Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar and wrist-spinners Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal — can be made to look ordinary if the conditions are ripe.

The idea of experimentation to get team combinations right for the World Cup may be a priority for the Indian team, but for morale’s sake alone, it will be pushed much further to the periphery for once as the home side faces a possible series defeat against a largely inexperienced Australian team in the finale at the Feroz Shah Kotla on Tuesday.

READ: India vs Australia: Series a great learning for us, says Bharat Arun

After the thrashing suffered on a dew-laden outfield in Mohali on Sunday, the onus will be on the bowlers to bounce back.

India has options to choose from, now that Mohammed Shami — who had made way for Bhuvneshwar Kumar in the last contest — is fit.

In what will likely be a much slower pitch at the Kotla, India may opt for three spinners by bringing Ravindra Jadeja, the left-arm spinner, to partner the two wrist-spinners.

A stunning defeat in Mohali notwithstanding, India had a silver lining as its openers — Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma — roared back into form after three insipid outings.

With Virat Kohli having enjoyed a prolific series with the bat already, with two centuries, the top-order finally looks able to live up to its billing.

READ: Australia improving consistently, says Alex Carey

It will be a toss-up between K.L Rahul — who batted at No. 3 in Mohali — and Ambati Rayudu. Kedar Jadhav and Vijay Shankar, both of whom have had productive outings in the series, will once again be ready for crucial contributions with bat and ball.

Australia, on the other hand, has a “good selection headache” in having to choose between Marcus Stoinis, an established batsman, and Ashton Turner, the hero in the last contest.

The choice also depends on Stoinis’s injury — it is not yet clear whether he is fully fit.

Depending on the pitch, the team could bring in Nathan Lyon, the off-spinner, to partner Adam Zampa and Glenn Maxwell.

Vice-captain Alex Carey, at the Press meet on Saturday, showered praise on the bowling unit for having done well in the last game — despite having given away 358 runs in 50 overs — and the team management will not like to tinker with it too much for the finale.

Form and confidence are also important considerations for teams ahead of marquee events like the World Cup. The under-rated Australian side has it after back-to-back wins. Now, India may finally like to strut its stuff.

Teams (From)

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

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

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