India vs Australia, 3rd ODI Preview: India Eye Series Win In MS Dhoni's Hometown Ranchi
Ind vs Aus: India are 2-0 up against Australia and would be keen to seal the five-match ODI series in Ranchi.
A dominant Team India will be aiming for an unassailable 3-0 lead when they take on Australia in the third One-day International (ODI) of the five-match series in MS Dhoni's hometown Ranchi on Friday. A series win will be a perfect parting gift for Ranchi's favourite son MS Dhoni, who in all likelihood will be seen wearing the India Blues for the last time at his home ground. With this emotional side story in the backdrop, Virat Kohli's Team India are facing some issues regarding their top-order batting. Opener Shikhar Dhawan's poor run of form, in particular, has affected India's starts of late. To put things in perspective, Dhawan has scored only two half-centuries in the last 15 ODIs.
However, the hosts are unlikely to experiment with the winning combination at the Jharkhand State Cricket Association Stadium.
KL Rahul, who has found his form, may have to wait till India clinch the series, but the team management could well try him out at number three.
The two victories - by six wickets and eight runs - weren't exactly convincing but pulling off close matches under pressure will certainly add to team's confidence ahead of the World Cup in England and Wales, starting May 30.
"Just coming through these kinds of games gives us confidence. It's important to look ugly at times, and come through and win. We might get these low-scoring games in the World Cup as well," Kohli had said after the second game in Nagpur.
India's bowling has been flawless as Australia failed to reach 250 in both games but as far as batting is concerned, the hosts need to fix the chinks in their armour.
Other than Kohli, who scored his 40th ODI hundred, no other batsman has been impressive.
Vice-captain Rohit Sharma, the second most consistent player in this line-up, looked good in the first game before he got out.
Kedar Jadhav and Dhoni shepherded India in the first match and didn't trouble the scorers in the next.
Ambati Rayudu, whose only significant knock was the 90 against New Zealand in the last away series, has also been inconsistent and can be replaced by Rahul.
Rayudu, who has retired from first-class cricket, has found it difficult and his primary problem has been not being able to rotate the strike.
If Dhawan is persisted with, the best way to give Rahul at least three games is to bring him at No. 3 and the skipper coming at No 4 in place of Rayudu.
There are no such worries about Indian bowling as they have performed as a unit. The biggest gain in the second game has been Jadhav and Vijay Shankar performing their combined role of a fifth bowler to perfection.
Shankar's two wickets while bowling the final over will also instil confidence in his captain that in case Hardik Pandya has a breakdown, he has a fall-back option in the Tamil Nadu all-rounder.
However, he is still not somebody who can bowl six to seven overs consistently in each game.
Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah have been outstanding in the two games so far. If Shami was lethal during the opening spell of the first game, Bumrah set it up with another incredible effort at the death in the second.
One who is quietly inching towards a slot in the World Cup-bound squad is Ravindra Jadeja, who has bowled brilliantly in those middle overs in tandem with Kuldeep Yadav.
India: Virat Kohli (capt), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Ambati Rayudu, Kedar Jadhav, Vijay Shankar, MS Dhoni (wk), Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Ravindra Jadeja, Yuzvendra Chahal, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Rishabh Pant.
Australia: Aaron Finch (capt), Usman Khawaja, Peter Handscomb, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Ashton Turner, Jhye Richardson, Adam Zampa, Andrew Tye, Pat Cummins, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Alex Carey (wk), Nathan Lyon, Jason Behrendorff.
Match starts at 1:30 pm IST.
(With PTI inputs)