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India vs Australia | Focus on Kohli's Batting Position as India Look to Avoid Series Defeat

India will be feeling the heat after a dominating performance by Australia in the first ODI in Mumbai, and will be looking to keep the series alive as they prepare for the second game in Rajkot on Friday.

Cricketnext Staff |January 16, 2020, 4:05 PM IST
India vs Australia | Focus on Kohli's Batting Position as India Look to Avoid Series Defeat

India will be feeling the heat after a dominating performance by Australia in the first ODI in Mumbai, and will be looking to keep the series alive as they prepare for the second game in Rajkot on Friday.

Australia thrashed India by 10 wickets chasing 256, with both David Warner and Aaron Finch smashing centuries. They now have a strong chance of winning their second consecutive ODI series in India. Given the way they played in Mumbai, it wouldn't be wrong to say they are even favourites for the second match.

It's India who have issues going into the rest of the series. The biggest of them is Virat Kohli's batting position. The captain batted at No. 4 to accommodate Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul in Mumbai. The move didn't exactly work, and Kohli said he might rethink the strategy.

But Rishabh Pant's unavailability through concussion and the absence of another wicketkeeper in the squad means Rahul will continue to feature in the XI, as should Dhawan who made 74 in Mumbai. Thus, Kohli might be forced to bat at No. 4 once again, unless India ask Rahul to do that role. Either way, the move means Shreyas Iyer, who had a few very good outings at that position in recent times, will bat at No. 5.

Pant's absence should give way for Manish Pandey ir Kedar Jadhav. It's likely to be the latter, given he can be a part-time bowling option too. India's bowlers struggled in Mumbai and will welcome some help from the sixth bowler. They also have to decide on Shardul Thakur v Navdeep Saini. The former played in Mumbai, perhaps due to his batting success in recent games, but went for 43 runs from five overs with the ball. Saini's pace might be a good option, as could be Yuzvendra Chahal's wrist spin.

But the issues with the bat are what India will look to fix first. Kohli said they were a bit tentative and respected Australia's bowlers a bit too much in some phases. He called for a more positive approach, and could lead the way by promoting himself to No. 3 once again. A lot will depend on Rohit Sharma too - if he gets going, the rest takes care of itself. Pant's absence leaves India with little firepower in the death overs, which means they'll once again be dependent on the top order.

It won't be an easy task given Australia have a relentless attack. All their bowlers were among the wickets last game, with the pacers - Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Kane Richardson - doing bulk of the damage. Once they restricted India to only 255 on a belter of a pitch, Warner and Finch toyed around with India's bowlers to win in under 38 overs. Much of the talk pre-series was on the return of Steve Smith and the ODI call up to Marnus Labuschagne, but neither was needed to bat in Mumbai!

They took a liking to India's pacers in particular, with each of them going for at least seven an over. India will want the senior pacers Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami to step up on what is likely to be another batting-friendly pitch.

Squads:

India: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul (w), Virat Kohli(c), Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, Ravindra Jadeja, Shivam Dube, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Shardul Thakur, Kuldeep Yadav, Navdeep Saini, Yuzvendra Chahal

Australia: David Warner, Aaron Finch(c), Steven Smith, Marnus Labuschagne, Alex Carey(w), D Arcy Short, Ashton Turner, Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Kane Richardson, Adam Zampa, Ashton Agar, Peter Handscomb

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2 New Zealand 3241 112
3 South Africa 3177 102
4 England 4593 102
5 Australia 3672 102
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1 England 6745 125
2 India 7364 121
3 New Zealand 4837 112
4 Australia 5543 111
5 South Africa 5193 110
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2 Australia 6986 269
3 England 5568 265
4 South Africa 4720 262
5 India 10071 258
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