After a thriller of a finish in the last match wherein India prevailed to level the series 1–1, the third and final ODI of the series is all set to be decisive for both the teams aiming to win the series.
For Australia, a win in the final ODI will motivate the team and uplift their confidence and game after a series of uneventful display in the limited overs format since the Champions Trophy in England two years back. A win would give the Aussies a belief that they can still go on to fight and win the World Cup played in England in June-July.
Thus, the Men in Yellow have roped in leg-spinner Adam Zampa and fast bowler Billy Stanlake along with Bowling all-rounder Kane Richardson in place of off-spinner Nathan Lyon, who has been dropped after two below-par performance in the ongoing series, and Jason Behrendorff, who has been ruled out with back soreness. Thus, we expect Zampa and Richardson to replace the duo of Lyon and Behrendorff.
For India, however, this series win would mean that they are ready to take on the world in alien conditions and thus solidify their stake as one of the favourites heading toward the mega-cricketing carnival of World Cricket. Having already defeated the Kangaroos in their own backyard in Tests, the win in ODI series as well will give them a boost that would aid them in the World Cup.
India are expected to rope in Vijay Shankar as a bowling all-rounder in place of Mohammed Siraj, as was suggested by skipper Virat Kohli in the presentation ceremony of the second match. This would enable the Indians to not just solidify their bowling but also their batting line-up as Vijay Shankar is a very good batsman down the order and can don the finisher’s role in the squad if it’s necessary.
Middle-Order scoring in abundance – Before the start of this series, much was spoken about the Australian middle-order batsmen who were underperforming. Cometh the India series, however, the middle-order has clicked and scored runs in abundance. All of Shaun Marsh, Usman Khawaja, Peter Handscomb, Marcus Stoinis and Glenn Maxwell have chipped in with some crucial runs and partnerships that have helped the Kangaroos to post runs past the 280 mark and dictate the play against the visitors.
In-experienced Death-over Bowlers – Apart from Jhye Richardson and Marcus Stoinis, none of the Australian bowlers have looked comfortable bowling to the Indian batsmen in the death overs. Since Richardson is mostly used in the initial and middle overs to pick up important wickets for his team, only Stoinis has justified his role of containing the Indian batsmen in the slog overs, as he continuously bowls slower deliveries thus making the batsmen to try and hit him forcefully outside the park for a boundary. However, none of Behrendorff, Siddle or Lyon are able to replicate the same and thus end up giving plenty of runs to the Indian batsman. It is thus to be seen whether any of Stanlake, Zampa or Richardson could aid Jhye and Stoinis in death-overs of the series decider and contain the Indian batsmen while they try to explode.
Lack of runs from the Openers – This has been an issue for Australia for quite a time now, wherein none of the Australian openers are able to contribute to their team’s total significantly and hence as mentioned by Finch in the last match, Australia are always short of the par score. Thus, if Australia are to win the series, the openers would have to play a huge role in the match and should provide the Aussies with a strong foundation.
Presence of finishers in the Batting-Order – With the likes of MS Dhoni and Dinesh Karthik finishing the job for India in the last match, and with the likes of Virat Kohli and Ravindra Jadeja also present in the squad, the Indian batting order boasts of finishers who can take away the game in moments from the opposition’s hands. Thus, India would need these finishers to perform in the series decider to win the match and eventually the series.
Top-Order Batsmen on Fire – After a dismal show in the First ODI, wherein both Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan failed, in the next match Dhawan along with Rohit provided a strong platform for the rest of the Indian batsmen to follow the suit, while Virat Kohli went on to hit a match-winning ton. The Indian top-order in the past 4-5 years have day in and day out, scored the bulk of the runs of Indian total, and the same will be expected of them when they come to bat in the series decider against Australia at MCG.
Inability to pick up wickets during the middle-overs – The inability to pick up wickets in the middle overs has what hampered India’s chances of sealing a series victory within the two matches of the series. After getting early wickets in both of the matches, the Indian bowlers were unable to get past the Australian middle-order and thus allowed the Kangaroos to score in an excess of 280 runs. This issue needs to be resolved as the Australian squad consists of match-winners that can change the complexion of the game in minutes.
In the series finale, we expect India to win the match comprehensively as they possess a well-balanced side that have sound batsmen and quality bowlers. Australia are a team in transition and considering the fact that they have given a whole-hearted fight against the World No. 2 and challenged them on the brink of glory will be a positive sign for the Men in Yellow ahead of the World’s biggest Cricketing Carnival that starts in June.
Also Read, Match Report|Aus vs Ind|2nd ODI