Cricket

All set for a grand series-decider at Bengaluru

Indian captain Virat Kohli and team members celebrate victory during 2nd One Day International match between India vs Australia at Saurashtra Cricket Ground, Rajkot on Friday.

Indian captain Virat Kohli and team members celebrate victory during 2nd One Day International match between India vs Australia at Saurashtra Cricket Ground, Rajkot on Friday.   | Photo Credit: Vijay Soneji

India wrestling with injury concerns to a few key players; Australia geared up for a fast-paced, high-scoring battle.

The Indian team came away with several positives from Friday’s second One-Day International against Australia at Rajkot, but has a few injury concerns ahead of the series-decider at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium here on Sunday.

The availability of openers Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan hangs in the balance. While Rohit injured his shoulder while fielding at Rajkot, Dhawan was hit on the ribs by a Pat Cummins snorter. Dhawan, however, batted on to score a terrific 96.

Dashing duo

The home side will hope the two regain fitness quickly, as they have been in good form. "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," a BCCI statement read.

Wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant is another injury concern, struck on the helmet by Cummins in the first ODI. His replacement, K.L. Rahul, ensured that Pant was not missed. Rahul adapted wonderfully to an unfamiliar three-down position and smashed a crucial 52-ball 80.

The local lad could face yet another batting-order change, returning to the top if either Rohit or Dhawan miss the action. Rahul also showed smart glovework, his stumping to take out Aaron Finch prompting suggestions that he is qualified to be picked as regular wicketkeeper. There were many more signs that augur well for India.

Skipper Virat Kohli got going with a fluent 78, and the bowling attack — led by fit-again Jasprit Bumrah and Kuldeep Yadav — was effective. Even Manish Pandey, who failed with the bat, contributed with a stunning one-handed catch to dismiss the dangerous David Warner.

Australia, meanwhile, has enough quality in the ranks to hit back strongly.

The visitors were on track in the Rajkot chase until the 30th over, before losing three wickets in the space of eight overs.

Steve Smith, who fell at this crucial stage after making 98, believes that the series is set for an exciting finish. “It sets up a nice grand finale, doesn’t it? One-all going into Bangalore, which is usually another pretty good batting wicket. I think it’s going to be an exciting game, with both teams having played some good cricket throughout this series,” Smith said after the loss on Friday.

Smith expects the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium to be full of runs. “Bangalore is a nice batting wicket. It feels like the ball goes further in the air. It sort of travels, and you see lots of sixes generally there. It’s also quite a fast outfield, and it’s usually a nice-paced wicket. I can see perhaps another high-scoring game,” Smith said.

On the injury to Rohit, Smith said, “Rohit is a world-class player — we wish him all the best, and hope he’s all right. But if not, that does leave a hole for them, because he’s phenomenal at the top of the order. His record speaks for itself.”

Only cricket, please!

A full house is expected on Sunday. The Karnataka State Cricket Association urged spectators to enjoy the cricket without using the occasion to make political statements.

To enforce this directive, fans will be barred from bringing placards, banners and marker pens into the stadium.

Squads:

India: Virat Kohli (captain), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, K.L. Rahul, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, Shivam Dube, Ravindra Jadeja, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Navdeep Saini, Jasprit Bumrah, Shardul Thakur and Mohammed Shami.

Australia: Aaron Finch (Captain), Alex Carey (Wicket-keeper), Patrick Cummins, Sean Abbott, Ashton Agar, Peter Handscomb, Josh Hazlewood, Marnus Labuschange, Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Ashton Turner, David Warner and Adam Zampa.

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Printable version | Feb 17, 2020 1:11:45 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/cricket/series-at-stake-india-and-australia-ready-for-showdown/article30592312.ece

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