AUS vs IND, 2nd ODI: Visitors eye improved bowling effort

Indian skipper M. S. Dhoni will now consider his bowling options ahead of the second ODI at the Brisbane Cricket Ground on Friday.

India will be wary of Australian skipper Steve Smith's form.   -  Reuters

As defeats go, India’s loss in Perth was not the worst, but it felt somewhat deflating. For, after having made 309 and reduced the opponent to 21 for two, it is not often that a side fears an adverse result. And yet India have now travelled to Brisbane, across the enormous breadth of this country, 1-0 down in the series.

There is no reason for India to be downbeat, though. Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli were imperious and little blame can be apportioned to the batting for the outcome of the first ODI. It may seem fair to say that India fell 20 runs short, but that is a conclusion reached easily in hindsight. Although more may have been squeezed out of overs 41 through 46 (when only 38 runs were added), the size of a ‘good’ total is hard to estimate batting first. Besides, as Rohit Sharma pointed out here on Thursday, no score is now truly safe.

M. S. Dhoni will now consider his bowling options ahead of the second ODI at the Brisbane Cricket Ground on Friday. Ishant Sharma, who missed the first game after suffering a cut on the finger, is in line for a return. Ordinarily, he may have been expected to replace Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who was not even part of the original contingent, but the latter’s showing in Perth makes this decision a little less straightforward. That India’s spinners fumbled for control — leaking 129 runs in 18 overs between them — on Tuesday is vexing. It is therefore possible that Dhoni will exclude Ravindra Jadeja for Ishant. Although it could leave the batting feeling lightweight, it is a risk that will have to be taken.

The ‘Gabba’ hosted two games in the Big Bash League (T20) last week; the chasing teams won both times, making scores of 179 and 189. Another day of tall totals will not be surprising to behold. Rohit expected the pitch here to behave much like the pancake-flat strip rolled out at the WACA, only offering greater bounce.

Amidst criticism of India’s bowlers, it must not be forgotten that in Perth their Australian counterparts did not cover themselves in glory either. The debutants Joel Paris and Scott Boland went for 127 runs from their 18 combined overs, while Glenn Maxwell, the only spinner in the side, was not trusted with more than three overs by his captain. Only Josh Hazlewood inspired any sort of confidence; he is now the leader of this attack — a turn of events he will not have imagined a year ago.

Absent from the second ODI will be Mitchell Marsh, whom Australia has chosen to rest, with John Hastings his replacement. David Warner, meanwhile, has been granted paternity leave, and an in-form Usman Khawaja called up as cover.

On their last tour of Australia, India lost the two games they played here — a dull one-dayer against England, when they were blown away by Steve Finn and James Anderson, and an engrossing Test match versus the home side.

The latter fixture is now easily recalled for other reasons — Shikhar Dhawan’s injury in the nets, India’s subsequent complaints against the practice pitches, and the captain’s admission that the incident created “unrest in the dressing room”. There were no such episodes as Dhoni’s men trained here on Thursday. They will hope to leave Brisbane with fonder memories this time.

The squads:

Australia: Steve Smith (captain), Usman Khawaja, Aaron Finch, George Bailey, John Hastings, Glenn Maxwell, James Faulkner, Matthew Wade (wicketkeeper), Josh Hazlewood, Joel Paris, Scott Boland, Shaun Marsh, Kane Richardson.

India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain and wicketkeeper), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Manish Pandey, Gurkeerat Mann, Rishi Dhawan, R. Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Brainder Sran.

Time: 8.50 IST.