M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore
September 28, Thursday; 13:30 IST
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The main picture
If winning is all that matters, then all of us can be effusive in our praise for India. But if you are looking for a perspective and the cornerstones of what is now India’s fourth ODI series victory of 2017, we should consider the chances dropped and taken, the mistakes committed and the brilliance on display too. Although not hard to discern, India aren’t 3-0 up in this series because of their brilliance alone. Yes, they have had the cutting edge and the Indian players have made the telling difference with the bat and with the ball at the critical moments.
But Australia haven’t been the team you’ve come to expect: they have lacked ruthlessness when they have bowled, with the bat, they haven’t made the most of the dominant positions and their catching has been utterly poor, with Steve Smith alone dropping a handful of catches and giving the game-changers in the Indian batting line-up many a reprieve.
To be fair, Australia had come into this series as the inferior team, but you don’t associate the performances and defeats seen so far with the five-time world champions. They haven’t just been outsmarted and overpowered but also psychologically beaten. Therefore, going into these last two One-Day Internationals, Smith’s men face a test of mental toughness as much as their skills in conditions that have not entirely been foreign to them. The Chennai and Kolkata pitches offered plenty of bounce and facilitated strokeplay, but the Australian batting line-up panicked amid the pressure of run chases.
Virat Kohli said in the post-match interview after the series-clinching win in Indore, that the players who have sat out the first three ODIs will be given an opportunity. The Indian captain specifically mentioned Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav as those who might get a look-in in the final two one-dayers. Remember, Shikhar Dhawan hasn’t been added to the squad for the final two ODIs, while Axar Patel, who had twisted his ankle ahead of the first ODI and was replaced by Ravindra Jadeja, has regained his place in the 15-man Indian squad. With the series in the bag, we might see a couple of changes being made to the playing XI.
Team India have continued to go from strength to strength and fortunately for them, the decisions they make are coming off more often than not. Hardik Pandya’s promotion to No. 4 in the Indore ODI is a case in point, while Kohli has to be credited for his clever use of Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav, in particular. Kuldeep has been expensive, conceding 162 runs in 24 overs of bowling in the three ODIs so far, but the seven wickets he has taken, particularly after being smashed initially in Kolkata and Indore, have been consequences of the faith the captain has shown in him. Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah continue to catch the eye and live up to their reputation of being well capable of bowling at any stage of the innings.
Bangalore, the garden city, has received plenty of rain over the last month. Thursday’s forecast is for sunshine with the occasional shower. In addition to the weather, the M Chinnaswamy Stadium has over the years become a venue where, statistically, teams have preferred chasing. So, chances are that the captain who wins the toss will opt to bowl first. The team batting first, as we saw in Indore, might struggle to assess a defendable score and in aiming too high, could fold up for a lesser total.
India vs Australia head to head in ODI
This record stands at Ind 44-72 Aus, with 10 other matches failing to produce a result.
On Indian soil, Australia lead the head-to-head record by 25-24, with five no-results.
India have played the Aussies six times at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore, winning four and losing just once, while the one other match was a no-result.
IND: WWWWW (last five matches, from left to right)
India are chasing a tenth successive ODI victory, which will be a first for them if they go on to achieve it. With the victory in Indore, they equalled their record of nine successive ODI wins.
4th ODI: India vs Australia playing XI, team news
Ashton Agar suffered a fractured left finger in Indore, ruling him out of the rest of this ODI series and forcing the visitors to make a change. James Faulkner is a possible replacement for Agar, with the size of this venue potentially working against Adam Zampa. Faulkner scored his maiden and only ODI hundred till date, at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium, the last time these two teams played here (on Diwali Day in 2013). The India v Australia ODI in 2013 was the last ODI hosted by this venue.
Possible Australia playing XI: 1 Steve Smith (c), 2 David Warner, 3 Aaron Finch, 4 Travis Head, 5 Peter Handscomb (wk), 6 Glenn Maxwell, 7 Marcus Stoinis, 8 James Faulkner, 9 Pat Cummins, 10 Nathan Coulter-Nile, 11 Kane Richardson
Team India, as aforementioned, have a window to experiment. But the team management will be keen to ensure that the balance of the side is retained. In the batting department, Kedar Jadhav might make way for Lokesh Rahul. And on the bowling front, Mohammed Shami may replace one of the two pacers. Chances are that Axar Patel could feature too, in place of Kuldeep Yadav.
Possible India playing 11 for 4th ODI: 1 Virat Kohli (c), 2 Ajinkya Rahane, 3 Rohit Sharma, 4 Lokesh Rahul, 5 Manish Pandey, 6 MS Dhoni (wk), 7 Hardik Pandya, 8 Kuldeep Yadav/Axar Patel, 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 10 Jasprit Bumrah/Mohammed Shami, and 11 Yuzvendra Chahal
Australia’s personnel changes for the fourth ODI will have to come good as Aaron Finch did in the third ODI, to get on board this series. For India, though, their confidence is sky high, they are arguably the most resourceful international cricket team at the moment and the balance and strength of their side will remain unaffected even after the changes to their playing XI. So, India are the favourites to win the fourth ODI, in Bengaluru, but they will have to play well on the day to make the series 4-0.