Not many would have expected the series to stay alive in the final ODI after India won the first two games. It seemed like business as usual for India, particularly at home. But Australia have turned things around in the last two matches, potentially kick-starting a run that could make them feel much better about themselves with the World Cup around the corner.
The fourth ODI in Mohali in particular will give them confidence and momentum going into the decider. The way they chased down 359 - their highest successful chase - with more than two overs to spare could send signals that Australia cannot be taken lightly ever. The star of the night was Ashton Turner for his unbeaten 43-ball 84 studded with five fours and six sixes.
Australia's batting is beginning to fall in place. Usman Khawaja now has a century and 91 in the last two games. Peter Handscomb made a superbly paced 117 in the chase in Mohali. Aaron Finch found some form with 93 in Ranchi before falling for nought in the last game. Glenn Maxwell has been in fine hitting form. Turner too has turned up.
If Shaun Marsh can step up, Australia will have a line up where every batsman is among the runs although Marcus Stoinis is unlikely to be fit.
Stoinis' absence left Australia short of a bowling option in Mohali, and it showed. Every bowler barring Adam Zampa went for over six an over. Pat Cummins did manage a five-fer, although he too went for 70 from his ten while Jhye Richardson got 3 for 85 from his nine. It will be interesting to see if Australia feel the necessity
to strengthen their bowling.
On the other hand, India have received two wake up calls in the last two matches. That might not be the worst thing though - the pressure of a decider could add to their preparation ahead of the World Cup.
India would feel more or less happy about their batting after the Mohali game. They wanted their first choice openers Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan to strike form, and they did just that with a 193-run stand. Dhawan in particular needed runs under his belt, and he got that with a 143 in Mohali, one of his favourite venues. Rohit too made a 92-ball 95.
What India did after the opening stand was the more interesting part. They had KL Rahul at No. 3, pushing Virat Kohli down by one spot. Was it just a case of giving Rahul some game-time, or is it a more permanent option remains to be seen.
Rahul did okay, scoring 26 off 31. He'd want more time in the middle to push his case, and also feel better about his form. Whether Kohli sticks to No. 4 in the crucial game remains to be seen.
Apart from the top four combinations, India would also want to test out Rishabh Pant in different scenarios. He had a familiar set up in Mohali - came in after a strong platform and scored a quick 36. He will also be under pressure after missing a couple of chances with the gloves.
India's bowlers have conceded more than 300 twice in two matches now. They played their best combination in the last match, with Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal both in the XI. Yet, they couldn't stop Australia from racing home in style in the mammoth chase. India would be pondering their bowling options, particularly the Bhuvneshwar Kumar v Mohammed Shami dilemma.
All of a sudden, the two teams seem to be more or less on equal footing. India have the balance, strength and home advantage. Australia have momentum and are peaking at the right time. It's all set up for a perfect finale.
India: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli(c), Ambati Rayudu, KL Rahul, Rishabh Pant, MS Dhoni, Kedar Jadhav, Vijay Shankar, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Yuzvendra Chahal, Ravindra Jadeja.
Australia: Aaron Finch(c), Alex Carey, Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, Peter Handscomb, Marcus Stoinis, Glenn Maxwell, Jhye Richardson, Ashton Turner, Pat Cummins, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Jason Behrendorff, Nathan Lyon, Adam Zampa, Andrew Tye.
Alex CareyAustralia vs India 2019Bhuvneshwar Kumardelhiferoz shah kotlafifth odi india vs australiaIndia vs Australia 2019Kedar JadhavMS Dhoni
First Published: March 12, 2019, 12:17 PM IST