Men in Blue need to find a way to tackle the Mitchells’ menace

Marsh, with two aggressive half-centuries, and Starc, with eight wickets in two games, have proved to be thorns in India’s flesh; the spinners are expected to come to the fore for Rohit’s men on a pitch likely to assist them

March 22, 2023 01:10 am | Updated 07:48 pm IST - Chennai

Need of the hour: Gill will do well to put a price on his wicket even while playing his natural game.

Need of the hour: Gill will do well to put a price on his wicket even while playing his natural game. | Photo Credit: B. JOTHI RAMALINGAM

Bilateral one-day internationals may have lost relevance in recent times, but for visiting teams, a series win in India is still a big deal.

The Men in Blue have only lost one ODI series since 2016, when Australia beat India 3-2 in 2019.

On Wednesday at the recently-renovated M.A. Chidambaram Stadium, the Aussies will look to repeat their feat from four years ago in the third and final one-day match of the series now level at at 1-1.

The visitors will take confidence from the commanding 10-wicket win in Visakhapatnam on Sunday to level the three-match competition after the opening-game loss in Mumbai.

Perfect finish

And an ODI series win in India ahead of the World Cup here later this year would be a perfect way to finish the tour for Australia, which lost the four-Test series 2-1. For the tourists, the two Mitchells — Marsh and Starc — have been firing on all cylinders with bat and ball, respectively, in the series.

Marsh, who has opened the batting in the absence of David Warner, has grabbed the opportunity with both hands with consecutive half-centuries to amass 147 runs so far.

In a positive development for the Aussies, Warner batted in the nets for over 20 minutes on Tuesday.

The left-handed batter missed the first two matches as he had not fully recovered from his elbow injury. If the swashbuckling opener does return, Marcus Stoinis is likely to be the one to make way for him.

Meanwhile, India will look to complete a clean sweep of the series win at home this year, having blanked New Zealand and Sri Lanka 3-0. However, Australia has proved to be a far more formidable opponent.

In the two matches, the Indian top-order has been found wanting in seamer-friendly conditions against the Aussie pace attack led by Starc.

With the new ball, the left-arm seamer made full use of the assistance from the pitch and ambient conditions, taking eight wickets in the two outings, including a five-for in the second match.

Starc has had the right-hander heavy Indian top-order in a tangle, especially with the ball coming in. It is something Rohit’s men would look to address.

Shubman Gill — who has had a stellar start to his ODI career — has had a quiet series and was guilty of throwing away his wicket with loose shots in both games. The young opener would be keen to make amends in the decider.

The Chepauk pitch may not help the speedsters like the ones for the first two games, which should please the batters after two low-scoring matches in the series. On a surface that is traditionally known to help spinners, India will fancy its chances considering its depth in the department. In the second game, the home side fielded three spinners, a combination they might persist with.

With the IPL looming over the horizon, Rohit Sharma’s men will look to finish the home season on a high and enjoy the camaraderie before they become rivals over the next two months.

The teams (from):

India: Rohit Sharma (Capt.), Hardik Pandya, Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, K.L. Rahul, Ishan Kishan, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Umran Malik, Shardul Thakur, Axar Patel and Jaydev Unadkat.

Australia: Steve Smith (Capt.), David Warner, Travis Head, Marnus Labuschagne, Mitchell Marsh, Marcus Stoinis, Alex Carey, Glenn Maxwell, Cameron Green, Josh Inglis, Sean Abbott, Ashton Agar, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Ellis and Adam Zampa.

Match starts at 1.30 p.m.

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