Cricket

Australia sweat on Finch's form, India target little gains


AUSTRALIA TOUR OF INDIA, 2019: 2ND ODI

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Finch will have some tricky decisions to make whilst battling his poor run with the bat © AFP

These are the last two World Cup winners. They are two of cricket’s three financial powerhouses possessing a set of players forever ready for a one-upmanship battle. An India-Australia series is momentous even otherwise, let alone one being played less than three months out from a World Cup. In the current state though, these two teams find themselves on the opposite ends of the ODI spectrum.

Take for instance the two captains. Virat Kohli talks ‘minor combination tweaks’, specific match situations and Plan Bs while Aaron Finch wakes up to fresh quotes of a former cricketer asking for his axing. Finch has played the role of a statesman rather well in Australia’s post-Newlands perception change undertaking but has perhaps found the ordeal all too consuming in his role as the senior batsman of the side.

He now has scores of 0, 8 and 0 on this tour and has now gone 20 internationals in white-ball cricket without a 50-plus score since that 172 in Harare. Contrast this to when he was here in Australian colours 17 months ago when he averaged 83.3 with the bat. But such are the travails of captaincy, that personal form can occupy only so much of thought space without it beginning to hamper big decision making. And captain Finch has quite a few red flags to tend to already: How best to balance attack and defence in order to not squander strong positions? Does Shaun Marsh go straight back in or does young Ashton Turner get another go? When does Pat Cummins get his break?

Meanwhile, India are purring along fine, despite the whammy of the T20I series loss. A 1-0 lead will tempt them to play around with their combination a little. As in Hyderabad, they’ll want to put batsmen in situations that deviate from their usual role in the side. Ditto with the bowling. Yuzvendra Chahal will naturally and undesirably be compared to Ravindra Jadeja. The latter offered a different, more old-school, dimension to the middle-overs with his 0 for 33.

It is with the bat, though, that Chahal compares unfavourably to Jadeja. As good as Chahal has been in revolutionising India’s ODIs game, the voices in the team have often maintained that a longish tail introduces caution in the middle-order. The Jadeja assurance may just free-up batters through overs 25-40, keeping the all-rounder in constant selection focus even if the wrist-spinner remains first-choice.

Kohli and Shastri will also want their side to be tested by a well-set batsman batting in the death overs to guage how the ‘new and improved’ Mohammed Shami stacks up in that facet of his game.

When: India vs Australia, 2nd ODI, March 5, 2019, 13:30 IST

Where: Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium, Nagpur

What to expect: The Jamtha Stadium’s boundaries are among the longest in India, a fact that will inspire the spinners to flight the ball generously. Although six of the eight first games played at this venue have seen first-innings totals in excess of 290, the pitch has notoriously turned into a haven for spinners since the World T20 in 2016 and the India-South Africa Test before that. The square was re-laid in 2017, but didn’t change its character completely with Axar Patel’s three-wicket haul keeping Australia down to 242 in the last ODI here.

Team News:

India

The hosts will be desperate to add to Rishabh Pant’s three ODI appearances if they are considering putting him on that plane to England in May. It’ll be thus interesting to see if they consider dropping Ambati Rayudu for a game. Alternatively, a left-field move could involve resting MS Dhoni to give Pant a go although such a move is unlikely to be made now given the former captain’s recent good run of form.

Probable XI: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli (wk), Ambati Rayudu/Rishabh Pant, MS Dhoni (wk), Kedar Jadhav, Vijay Shankar, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah

Australia

Shaun Marsh has been Australia’s form player in the ODIs. But he was unavailable for the first game having just flown into the country after the birth of his child. The southpaw also has a minor hamstring issue and jetlag that he’ll have to overcome to play this game. If fit, Marsh will slot in at three with the rest of the line-up dropping down by a spot and Ashton Turner missing out despite a promising debut in Hyderabad.

Probable XI: Aaron Finch (c), Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh/ Ashton Turner, Marcus Stoinis, Peter Handscomb, Glenn Maxwell, Alex Carey (wk), Pat Cummins, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Adam Zampa, Jason Behrendorff

Did you know?

– India have won all their three ODIs in Nagpur against Australia. Australia’s only win here came against New Zealand in the World Cup encounter in 2011.

– MS Dhoni is the leading run-getter in ODIs in Nagpur VCA scoring 268 runs in four innings including two centuries, one of them against Australia in 2009.

– Aaron Finch has scored just 83 runs in his last seven ODI innings at 11.86 with a highest score of 41.

What they said:

Shaun Marsh was playing me well. Our think tank wanted to give me a break for a couple of games. I observed them closely in that period. Marsh plays very well, plays in front of the wicket, basing on that, I have made new plans. Now let’s see how I execute that when I bowl to him next: Kuldeep Yadav

Virat Kohli is one guy we always spend a little bit of extra time talking about in team meetings. It’s good for the confidence, it’s exciting to get a player like that out: Adam Zampa

© Cricbuzz

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