High time Australia’s batting line-up fires

Match details

Holkar Stadium, Indore
September 24, Sunday; 13:30 IST
Star Sports 1, Star Sports HD 1, Star Sports Hindi 1 HD, Hindi 1, Tamil

The main picture

For a team like Australia, the manner of their defeats in Chennai and Kolkata is just not acceptable. Having put themselves in winning positions through superb bowling performances, Steve Smith and co., needless to say, should have won both the matches; and the series scoreline, instead of 2-0, should probably read 0-2 (or at least 1-1). Simply because the visitors have won a lot more phases than the hosts.

So, what has gone wrong for Smith and his team?

Well, the batting has been a big letdown so far—before this series began, the general consensus was that Australia’s batting was their strongest suit, not to mention the depth in batting, too—and in hindsight, the team management could well have been more proactive. For the Kolkata ODI, after Hilton Cartwright’s successive failures, Peter Handscomb should probably have been brought into the line-up. Yes, Travis Head, Australia’s designated No. 4, will have had to move up the order. But in Aaron Finch’s absence, the five-time world champions should have been bold and willing to make this change to their batting order, at least for the crucial second ODI.

Secondly, again in terms of adaptation, Glenn Maxwell could have been deployed higher up and lower down the order in Chennai and Kolkata, respectively: in the first one-dayer, Australia were chasing a big target in a truncated match and had to score at close to eight runs per over. In such a scenario, they will probably have benefitted from Maxwell, the ever-aggressive, one-mode player, batting at No. 4, after having been reduced to 20/2 in five overs. In Kolkata, at the fall of Head’s wicket (85/3), Marcus Stoinis will have been an ideal batsman for the situation. You might argue that altering a settled batting order will not have been ideal. But chasing teams need to be flexible.

Despite being 2-0 down, a few positives have emerged for the visitors, who will be particularly pleased with how their bowling attack has fared in the two matches so far. Nathan Coulter-Nile has been their standout bowler and the main wicket-taker—this Western Australian pacer has taken 6/95 in 20 overs—while Pat Cummins has bowled economically (economy rate of 3.90). Kane Richardson, who came into the playing XI in place of James Faulkner for the Kolkata ODI, justified his selection with a three-fer (3/55).

Looking ahead to the 3rd ODI on Sunday, Australia need to be adaptable with their batting order in case they lose early wickets and David Warner doesn’t get them off to the kind of start he’s capable of. With the way their bowlers have performed, if the batting comes good, Australia will be a lot more competitive.

The resourceful nature of this Indian ODI side has been a massive factor in the Aussies being win-less so far. In Chennai, when they needed a partnership of substance after being 87/5, Team India got one from MS Dhoni and Hardik Pandya. The 118-run partnership between these two batsmen was crucial in the eventual victory by 26 runs (DLS method). And at the Eden Gardens, when much depended on the bowling attack to defend 252, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and co. delivered. India, even if you go by these two matches alone, have responded well to setbacks and that feature of theirs has helped them race into a 2-0 series lead.

Australia, first and foremost, have to raise their game and play well for a bigger portion of the 100 overs. But they also have to contend with playing against an Indian side who will not relax despite needing just one more victory from three matches for a series win. India will feel that they have a massive scope for improvement and such a mindset in the opposition camp is dangerous from an Australian perspective.

We have yet to witness a score of 300 in this series, with the two bowling attacks outshining the batting line-ups. But the Holkar Stadium in Indore might turn out to be the venue where we see 300 be made for the first time. The size of this ground is small and the pitch has tended to be batsmen-friendly over the years, indicated by the high scores posted by the home and the visiting teams.

India vs Australia head to head in ODI

The head-to-head record stands at Ind 43-72 Aus, with 10 no-results in 125 One-Day Internationals so far.

Sunday’s will be the first meeting between these two fantastic rivals, at the Holkar Stadium.

Team India have won each of their four ODIs at this venue.

Recent form

IND: WWWWW (last five matches, from left to right)

3rd ODI: India vs Australia playing XI

India’s worries ahead of the second ODI were firmly in the batting department. Ajinkya Rahane failed on his return to the side in the first ODI and Manish Pandey, despite two good scores in Sri Lanka in the fourth and fifth ODIs, put himself under pressure by falling for a duck. Now, ahead of the third ODI, only Rahane’s place is secure. The bowling attack is likely to remain the same from the Kolkata one-dayer.

Predicted, probable India playing XI for the third ODI: 1 Virat Kohli (c), 2 Rohit Sharma, 3 Ajinkya Rahane, 4 Manish Pandey/Lokesh Rahul, 5 Kedar Jadhav, 6 MS Dhoni (wk), 7 Hardik Pandya, 8 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 9 Kuldeep Yadav, 10 Jasprit Bumrah, and 11 Yuzvendra Chahal

For Australia, Aaron Finch is likely to return to their playing XI. He has recovered from the right calf problem and trained with the rest of his team on Saturday morning. The visitors will hope that he hits the ground running. Finch is likely to replace Hilton Cartwright, who was clueless as an opener in the first two ODI matches. Finch’s possible return to the line-up might not deny Peter Handscomb a place in the middle order. He has a chance to replace Matthew Wade, who is having a torrid time in front of the stumps.

Possible Australian playing 11 for the 3rd ODI: 1 Steve Smith (c), 2 David Warner, 3 Aaron Finch, 4 Travis Head, 5 Glenn Maxwell, 6 Marcus Stoinis, 7 Matthew Wade/Peter Handscomb (wk), 8 Nathan Coulter-Nile, 9 Patrick Cummins, 10 Ashton Agar, and 11 Kane Richardson

This portion of the preview was updated at 12:30 IST on September 23. 

Match prediction

India are on an eight-match winning streak and for much of it, they have come up with answers to the questions posed by their opponents. So, unlike the Indian sides of yesteryears, Australia have to play extremely well and for much of the 100 overs too, to beat this Virat Kohli-led team.

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