VCA Stadium, Jamtha, Nagpur
March 5, Tuesday; 13:30 IST
Live on Star Sports, streaming on Hotstar
The main picture
Less than a month ago, Aaron Finch led Melbourne Renegades to their maiden Big Bash League (BBL) title, beating Melbourne Stars in the final. Stars, who had Marcus Stoinis, Peter Handscomb, Glenn Maxwell and Adam Zampa of the Australian players in their ranks, were cruising to the title at one stage: they were 93 for no loss, chasing 146, before leg-break bowler Cameron Boyce sparked a collapse with the wicket of Stoinis.
Finch himself did not have a great Big Bash season with the bat—he had one half-century in eight innings and finished with an aggregate of 220 runs—but as a captain, he was able to get the best out of a team who were rich in Twenty20 experience with Tom Cooper, Cameron White, Daniel Christian, among others, in their line-up.
Finch’s batting form in Australian colours has been poor since the start of the summer and he hasn’t been able to conjure good results as captain either, at least so far. Finch’s batting form is obviously affecting Australia, in that his early wicket is forcing the other batsmen to take a more measured approach and losing Finch early means Australia lose one of the few big-hitters they have at this point. Consequently, they aren’t putting up even par totals on the board and, against a good batting team like India, their bowlers do not have the benefit of scoreboard pressure to aid them on pitches that are largely benign.
From Australia’s viewpoint, they need Finch to come good with the bat to come back into this series. If Finch gets a good score, chances are that he will provide Australia a platform to post a total in excess of 275 batting first, and a good batting performance will help him in his decision-making too.
Apart from that, Australia come into the second one-dayer with the positive of having made India work hard for 237 in Hyderabad, and the bowling unit keeping a tight leash on the Indian batsmen. Adam Zampa got the wicket of Virat Kohli for the second time on this tour and his spell of 10-0-49-2 gave Australia an outside chance of victory. Nathan Coulter-Nile was excellent too, and he is, after a satisfying tour of India in 2017 (when he took 10 wickets in the five-ODI series), once again thriving with his ability to get the ball to bounce disconcertingly from a good length and short of good length.
Virat Kohli revealed that he was happy to see India pushed into a corner with being reduced to 99 for four and the middle order getting an opportunity to contribute substantially. While the failure of Ambati Rayudu at No. 4 will continue to irk the team management and force them to ponder bringing in KL Rahul, runs for Kedar Jadhav and MS Dhoni, in particular, will delight the think-tank.
Kohli and Ravi Shastri will also have been happy with the collective effort of the bowling unit to restrict Australia to 236 for seven, particularly on an evening when Jasprit Bumrah wasn’t quite at his best. Mohammed Shami provided a reminder of the beautiful bowling rhythm he is in, while Kuldeep Yadav reacted well to being put under pressure by Usman Khawaja in his first over.
Pitch conditions and weather forecast
The pitch at the Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium in Nagpur is good for batting and tends to stay good for the course of 100 overs. It’s also a bigger ground compared to most other Indian venues and the spinners will enjoy the extra protection of the big boundary.
The forecast says that Tuesday will be clear with a maximum of 33 degree Celsius and the temperature at night dropping to 19 degree Celsius. On a serious note, the air quality is said to be unhealthy.
India vs Australia 2nd ODI playing 11
Possible India playing XI: 1 Virat Kohli (c), 2 Rohit Sharma, 3 Shikhar Dhawan, 4 KL Rahul/Ambati Rayudu, 5 MS Dhoni (wk), 6 Ravindra Jadeja, 7 Kedar Jadhav, 8 Vijay Shankar, 9 Mohammed Shami, 10 Jasprit Bumrah, 11 Yuzvendra Chahal/Kuldeep Yadav
Possible Australia playing XI: 1 Aaron Finch (c), 2 Alex Carey (wk), 3 Shaun Marsh, 4 Usman Khawaja, 5 Glenn Maxwell, 6 Peter Handscomb, 7 Marcus Stoinis, 8 Pat Cummins, 9 Adam Zampa, 11 Jason Behrendorff, 11 Jhye Richardson
One of the keys to Australia’s success is Finch coming good with the bat, which will allow the other batsmen to bat more freely while Finch himself can do significant damage with his ability to clear the boundary at will and play a long innings. Australia also need to be aggressive in the middle phase of the innings and string together substantial partnerships to post a par total if they bat first or chase the score that India set them.