India eye victory in ODI series finale against Australia

Winning the opening two ODIs gave India a two-game cushion to experiment with the squad ahead of the World Cup in May. However, they’ve ended up having a massive wake-up call following consecutive losses in the subsequent games, which helped Australia level the series. While Australia head into the encounter looking for their first away series win in the past two years, the Indians will be desperate to put a spanner in the works as they look to end their last series before the World Cup on a high.

The last match saw India’s openers Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan showcase their batting excellence with a 193-run opening partnership. Thanks to their outstanding batsmanship, the Men in Blue posted a total of 358. The target seemed like a mountain to climb for the Aussies, who had never successful managed such a big chase. Ashton Turner though had other plans and stayed true to his name by turning the contest on its head with a spectacular 84 runs from 43 balls. His knock paved the way for an unlikely victory that saw Australia stay alive in the series and consequently force a decider in the fifth ODI in Delhi on Wednesday.

From the Indian dressing room:

Indian captain Virat Kohli will have a lot on his mind going into the fixture. While winning the series will be priority, he’ll also be eager to give adequate game time to every member in the squad ahead of the World Cup.

Dhawan’s run drought finally came to an end last time around and the stylish left-hander did so in style by hitting the highest ODI score of his career. A belligerent 143 runs from 115 balls will boost his confidence, which is good news for India, who need their big hitters to be in form over the next three months.

As far as the bowlers go, Bhuvneshwar Kumar will probably get another opportunity to impress in the absence of an injured Mohammed Shami. Despite being ineffective in the previous game, both Bhuvneshwar and Jasprit Bumrah can have a bigger say in a Delhi pitch that usually has something to offer the seamers.

All- rounder Ravindra Jadeja could make a return to the starting XI by replacing either Yuzvendra Chahal or Kedar Jadhav, who were both poor in Chandigarh. Chahal and Kedar Jadhav were very expensive and had economy rates of more than eight from 15 overs collectively.

From the Australian dressing room:

Australian skipper Aaron Finch returned to form in the third ODI with a confident 93 that laid the foundations for his side’s first win in the series. It was a crucial knock for Finch, who was in a woeful run of form prior to that innings. His opening partner Usman Khawaja, on the other hand, has been in good touch, smashing 104 and 91 in the third and fourth ODI respectively.

Pace spearhead Pat Cummins has been another incredible performer for the Aussies this series. He picked up five wickets from 10 overs in the last game and is the leading wicket-taker in the series with 12 scalps to his name. It was Cummins who ended Dhawan’s 143-run knock in the last game and he will once again be key to Australia’s fortunes in Delhi. Spinner Adam Zampa has been the other consistent performer for the Aussies with ball in hand, racking up eight wickets in four matches.

The series finale will take place at the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium in Delhi on Wednesday. Even though the pitch is expected to be batting friendly, bowlers have had a say in the national capital in the recent past.

The fifth ODI begins at 1:30 pm IST on Wednesday, 13th March.