With both teams locked on parity going into the 3rd game of the series, it couldn’t have got more intriguing than this. A series which has had its own share of serene and downplayed build-up to it unlike India-Australia tussles in recent years, the two One-day games and T20 has reignited cricketing spirits among the fans and gives us plenty to look forward to in the remaining 5 games. So, how will the two teams set themselves up and have a shot at pulling away from the other in what should be a crucial match from the series’ perspective?
Before the series started, there were very few detractors as far as India was concerned and very few could have predicted the state of the series as it is. Yes, India did win the T20 game in emphatic fashion and there was very little that the bowlers could have done on a placid batting track in Rajkot.
The first One-day International at Pune was for me, a litmus test for our bowlers. The wicket might not have had a lot on offer but, the manner in which our fast bowling trio of Ishant, Vinay and Bhuvaneshwar were taken apart by the likes of Finch and Bailey was abominable to watch. Ishant Sharma‘s place in the side continues to be questioned and his time is fast running out and it would be interesting to see whether MS Dhoni sticks with Ishant tomorrow. Bhuvaneshwar Kumar has struggled in the conditions that have prevailed so far and it would be harsh to pass any judgement on his bowling already. For Dhoni’s sake, he could maybe try out Mohamed Shami, who, with his pace can be a handful. otherwise Indian quick men don’t seem to bother the likes of Finch, Hughes, Bailey and co.
Probably, the biggest debacle of the series has to be the way Jadeja and Ashwin have operated. Jadeja for his part has bowled reasonably well but, he isn’t the same bowler who did so well until the champions’ trophy and in the Tri-series in West Indies as well. Ashwin has looked clueless for the first time in well over a couple of years now. He has been trying far too many variations early on in his spell and Australian batsmen have cashed in on his inconsistent line and length which has given Dhoni a major headache because Ashwin was his go-to man and looking at the current scenario, it seems Ashwin is way below his par.
On the batting front, Yuvraj’s comeback has been eye-brow raising and inspirational as well. He has looked in good touch and will look to continue his good form. Rohit’s maturity is out there for everyone to see and the 141* in the last game just reignited his career and hopefully, he can continue giving India good starts at the top of the batting order along with Dhawan, who is explosive. Kohli continues to impress and overall, Indian batting looks pretty menacing for the Australian bowling unit going into the crucial 3rd game of the series.
Australia have done well so far but in the games they have lost, their bowling has come under the scanner. Johnson for his part has bowled with blistering pace and has hurried every Indian batsman who has faced up to him. Mckay looked good in the first One-day game with his subtle changes in pace and the manner in which he foxed Dhoni in Pune was astonishing but, he, like other Australian quick men were blown away in Jaipur and that should concern the Australian think tank. Faulkner has bowled well in patches but he doesn’t pose any threat to the Indian batsmen on these flat batting pitches.
Coulter-Nile might not have done justice to his selection in the T20 game but Australia could look up to him tomorrow simply for the way he did so well in the recently concluded CLT20 and his ability to fire-in those yorkers in the death overs could come in handy.
The biggest positive for Australia in this series should be Aaron Finch, who has done exceedingly well to get Australia off to a good start right throughout the 3 games that have concluded so far and Bailey would bank on him to continue his good run of form. Bailey himself has looked in fluent touch with playing Indian spinners and hardly looks bothered to go over the top if need be.
Shane Watson has been a failure for Australia but his bowling was a major factor in Australia winning the first One-day International in Pune and Watson would want to get those crucial runs batting at No.3 for his own confidence. Maxwell has played the pinch-hitter’s role to perfection in all the games so far and Australia would want him to continue his blitz and if he can prolong his innings that weave bit, he can cause serious danger to any bowling attack in the world.
Pitch conditions and Toss
The surface at the PCA ground in Mohali is known to be one of the fastest ones in the country and the two sides’ fast bowlers would want to use that to their advantage. The ground size is reasonably big if not more and that could make for another high-scoring game if the bowlers again flop.
Toss will once again hold significance in who wants to bat first. Bailey so far has wanted to bat first after winning the toss but the mauling that was dished out in Jaipur might make him think twice especially, at this time of the year when dew is a major factor in deciding the way the game pans out.
India once again will go in to the game as favorites and if their bowling can somehow curb the Australian onslaught, you got to favor Indian batsmen and their prowess in these conditions.
Australia will come hard at India after what happened in Jaipur but considering the firepower India possess, Australia would have to play out of their skin to pose any threat.
All and all, it makes for a gripping contest from a fan’s perspective and hopefully another Kangaroo curry to taste for the Indian tigers.