India has a real battle on its hands on Wednesday when it takes on Australia in the fourth match of the seven-game ODI series at the JSCA Stadium here.
Down 1-2, the home side is under pressure to win or else the visiting team will tighten its hold on the series.
More than the batting, it is the Indian team’s bowling that has come under the scanner in this series. The victory that India achieved at Jaipur was largely owed to its batsmen who successfully chased 360.
The Indian bowling’s inability to make early breakthroughs is one of the main reasons for the Aussie upsurge. Phil Hughes and Aaron Finch have done a commendable job as openers, putting on substantial partnerships that paved the way for the team to cross 300 runs in all the three games. The same is not the case with India.
Neither Bhuvneshwar Kumar nor Ishant Sharma nor Vinay Kumar could swing the game India’s way in the early overs, that too, despite using different new balls from either end. This has been hurting India’s campaign so far. With the pitches turning out to be in favour of batsmen, Indian spinners lacked the bite and penetration to trouble the Aussies. Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja too seemed to have been sorted out by the Aussies.
That only four players are allowed outside the 30-yard circle during the non-Power Play overs has also upset the home team’s rhythm. Experts are of the view that the Indian bowlers need to come up with disciplined and to-the-field bowling. This obviously means that there would not be much room for experimenting. The earlier the Indians realise this, it is better for them in the future games.
Suresh Raina admitted at the press conference that adjusting to the new ODI rules was proving difficult for the bowlers.
“We are not getting the ball to reverse, while the spinners are also not getting turn as the two balls do not get old,” he said. “But we have no excuse. We have to do well under the circumstances.”
Apart from the openers — Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma — Virat Kohli and Dhoni have been contributing substantially with the bat. However, the middle-order has been a big let down with Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina and all-ronder Jadeja yet to score big in first three games. After the blistering innings in the only T20 game that India won at Rajkot, the left-handed Yuvraj Singh will be hoping to be among runs.
Cool and confident
The Aussies are cool and confident in their approach. Five to six of their regulars opted out of practice. Mitchell Johnson has been proving to be a tough customer to tackle with his pace and bounce. Clint McKay has been methodical in his approach to trouble the Indians with his pace and movement. Led by George Bailey, the Australians will be aiming to take a solid lead in the series.
Speaking to the media, Hughes said, “To be 2-1 up in this series is really pleasing. The confidence of all the boys is really high. Hopefully we can continue our really good form. Strike bowler (Mitchell) Johnson has been troubling the Indians with his pace and bounce. He has been the star. He has been very consistent in the last three games. He has bowled with some really fierce pace,” he said.
The teams (from):
India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Ravindra Jadeja, R. Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, R. Vinay Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Ambati Rayudu, Amit Mishra, Mohammad Shami and Jaydev Unadkat.
Australia: George Bailey (capt), Phillip Hughes, Aaron Finch, Shane Watson, Adam Voges, Glenn Maxwell, Brad Haddin, James Faulkner, Mitchell Johnson, Clint McKay, Xavier Doherty, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Callum Ferguson and Moises Henriques.
Umpires: Richard Kettleborough (Eng) and Vineet Kulkarni (Ind). Match referee: Roshan Mahanama (Sri Lanka). Third umpire: Anil Chaudhary.
Match starts at 1.30 p.m.