Focus on Rohit, Dhawan as India gears up for series-decider

India had several positives from Friday’s second ODI against Australia, but has a few injury concerns ahead of the series-decider in Bengaluru on Sunday.

Injuries to Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma have kept the Indian managment on the tenterhooks ahead of the series-decider in Bengaluru.   -  AP

India and Australia will slug it out in a winner-takes-all battle at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru on Sunday. If Australia outplayed India in the first ODI in Mumbai, the host exacted revenge in Rajkot to set the stage for a tantalising decider.

With the batsmen from both sides displaying impressive form, yet another high-scoring encounter beckons at the batting-friendly venue. "It's a nice batting wicket. It feels like the ball goes further in the air, it sort of travels, you see lots of sixes generally there. It's quite a fast outfield and it's usually a nice-paced wicket. I can see perhaps another high-scoring game," Steve Smith said on Friday, anticipating a high-scoring decider in Bengaluru.

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Injury concerns

But injuries are threatening to derail India’s plans. Shikhar Dhawan was hurt on the ribcage off a Pat Cummins delivery and didn’t take the field for Australia’s innings.

Rohit Sharma looked in pain after hurting his shoulder while fielding near the boundary line. Both have been in good nick and the management will take a call on their fitness on the morning of the match.

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"Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma are progressing well. Their recovery is being closely monitored, and a call on their participation in the final ODI will be taken before the Match," the BCCI said in a statement.

But Shikhar’s appearance on the post-match chat with KL Rahul has been a comforting sight for the fans. Rahul, who took on the wicketkeeping duty in the second ODI after Rishabh Pant sat out due to concussion, accelerated India’s scoring with an entertaining 80 in Rajkot and may be moved to the top at his home ground if Rohit fails to prove his fitness.

The Mangalorean did well for India as a No. 3 in the first ODI but vacated the spot for Virat Kohli who shunned batting experiments in the second ODI. He performed admirably at No. 5 to boost India’s score.

Captain Kohli is turning out to be Adam Zampa’s bunny, but not before collecting his due share of runs. 

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Formidable opposition

Though Smith did threaten to run away with the match, the bowlers took wickets at crucial moments. The team would take a lot of confidence seeing Jasprit Bumrah regain his bowling rhythm. Kuldeep Yadav leaked runs but took the all-important wickets of Alex Carey and Smith.

Australia is unlikely to make any changes to the squad with the title at stake. Pat Cummins was fiery in Rajkot and Mitchell Starc is experienced enough to bounce back from a dismal show. With Marnus Lambuschagne keeping Smith company in run making, containing the Australians would be a tall ask.

Fearing CAA protests, the Karnataka State Cricket Association has banned fans from bringing placards, permanent markers and sloganeering at the stadium on Sunday.

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