India and Australia will face-off in the fifth and final ODI of the 5-match series on Sunday at the Vidarbha Cricket Association in Nagpur. Aussies registered their first win of the series in the previous match and brought an end to India’s 9-match ODI winning streak. With the only ODI left in this series, which team holds the upper hand? Let’s take a look at strengths and weaknesses of both teams in order to predict the winner of the final ODI of the series.
In-form top order: Indian openers have been in superior form as a result of which India managed to seal the series after the completion of the third ODI itself. Rahane and Sharma have dealed with the Australian quickies to perfection and they would like to end the series with another fine partnership.
Hardik Pandya’s all-round show: Be it with the ball or be it with his bat, Hardik Pandya has been the standout performer for India. Things are going perfect for ‘Kung-fu’ Pandya as Sehwag calls him and Indian team needs to preserve him well for the future matches.
Pacers went for plenty in fourth ODI: India made a few changes in the fourth ODI with their bowling department but the ploy didn’t work out. Umesh Yadav bagged four wickets in the match but was pretty expensive at the same time.
Mohammad Shami looked a bit rusty and Axar Patel wasn’t much effective too as a result of which Australia managed to post a massive target for the hosts. Eventually they fell short of the target by 21 runs.
India squad – Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Virat Kohli(c), Hardik Pandya, Kedar Jadhav, Manish Pandey, MS Dhoni(w), Axar Patel, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Lokesh Rahul.
Aaron Finch is sublime form: Since his return to the team, Australia have looked a completely different unit. Finch scored a magnificent century at Indore and played an impressive knock at Bengaluru too. Unfortunately, the opener missed out on his second consecutive century but his performance in the series has been superlative. Apart from Finch, David Warner showed his aggressive side in the previous ODI as well. It was a special effort by the southpaw who managed to crack a century in his 100th ODI. What an entertainer!
Lack of depth in bowling: Nathan Coulter Nile has been the pick of the bowlers in the series for Australia but apart from him, no other bowler has been up to the mark. Australia made a change to their bowling attack by including Kane Richardson in the fourth ODI but the decision probably came in late. Had they included Kane earlier, the result of the series could have been different.
Australia squad – David Warner, Aaron Finch, Travis Head, Steven Smith(c), Peter Handscomb, Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade(w), Pat Cummins, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Kane Richardson, Adam Zampa, Glenn Maxwell, James Faulkner, Hilton Cartwright.
Match prediction – Australia ended their 11-match losing streak in away ODIs and at the same time they also ended India’s winning streak at Bengaluru. Team India have been a roll in the past couple of months and Virat Kohli who needs only one century to overhaul Ricky Ponting’s record of 30 ODI centuries would like to end the series on a high. He’ll look to win the ultimate contest of the series for the Men in Blue with a match-winning performance. As chances of Kohli playing a pivotal knock are very high, India are the favorites to win this match.
Possible winner – India