The Indian skipper, Virat Kohli made it clear after the loss in Ranchi that though there would be some changes to the Indian XI for the remaining two ODIs – to give a few players a last chance before the squad for the World Cup is finalised – the immediate focus of the team would be to win the series.
India would be concerned with the recent form of their openers – Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan. The pair have just added 487 runs in their last 17 innings at an average of 28.64 with just one hundred and one fifty run stand for the opening wicket. Of particular concern would be the form of Dhawan who has managed to accumulate just 392 runs in these 17 innings at an average of 24.50 with just two fifties in this time-frame.
Ambati Rayudu hasn’t cemented his place at Number 4 either. He has aggregated just 247 runs in his last 10 innings at an average of 30.87, including just one fifty. Equally concerning has been his strike rate of 75.30 during this period, which is even lower than his career strike rate of 79.04.
KL Rahul makes a strong case to get a chance in Mohali and could slot in ahead of either Dhawan as opener or Rayudu in the middle order.
MS Dhoni is being rested and that opens the door for Rishabh Pant to further his case for World Cup consideration.
India might also give Mohammed Shami a break after he suffered a minor leg injury in Ranchi. Bhuvneshwar Kumar could get his first game of the series as could Yuzvendra Chahal, who has so far been sitting out.
On the other hand, Australia would look to draw level and take some confidence from their performance in Ranchi – it was only their 4th 300-plus total in 19 innings post 2018.
The return to form of their skipper, Aaron Finch, would give Australia a huge sigh of relief. The 193-run stand with Usman Khawaja was the highest Australian partnership since 2018. This followed an 83-run opening wicket stand in Nagpur (Australia’s openers hadn’t managed to put together more than 20 for the opening wicket in the previous 7 ODIs).
They would expect more from the likes of Shaun Marsh (23 runs in 2 innings) and Peter Handscomb (67 runs in 3 innings) in the middle-order.
Pat Cummins and Adam Zampa have been the stand-alone bowlers for Australia in this series (7 wickets each). The Australian seamer has been outstanding – not only has he picked up crucial wickets of the Indian top-middle order but also been phenomenally restrictive conceding just 4.09 runs per over.
It would be interesting to see whether Finch introduces Zampa early in Kohli’s innings – the leg-spinner has dismissed the Indian captain twice in the series already.
India has played 15 ODIs in Mohali. They have won 10 and lost 5. They have won 4 of their previous 5 matches at this venue. However, they have lost their previous three encounters against Australia and only beaten them once at this ground way back in 1996 (overall record 3-1 Australia).
A pleasant day is expected on Sunday. The pitch is expected to be flat with the ball coming onto the bat at a good pace and height – so expect plenty of shot-making and boundaries. There could be some dew in the evening thus it would not be surprising to see both captains wanting to chase if they win the toss.
India: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli (c), Ambati Rayudu, KL Rahul, Rishabh Pant, 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
First Published: March 10, 2019, 8:39 AM IST