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India grail series in Ranchi

Another ODI series victory beckons at home as India look to wrap up their last series before the World Cup in England later this year. On the other hand, Australia’s struggle continues.

India were made to work hard for their 500th ODI win and that is what made it even sweeter. With 5 wickets in hand, Australia were cruising to victory before they missed a trick and surrendered to the Men in Blue. The hosts now have a chance to bag their 50th ODI victory against the Aussies when they lock horns at the JSCA International Stadium Complex, Ranchi, the hometown of former India skipper MS Dhoni.

From the Indian dressing room:

In the last year or two, India have been blossoming with their openers consistently stepping up to the task. Now, with the World Cup around the corner, they just seem to have lost their footing. No need to press the panic button yet, but Shikhar Dhawan’s form of late has been a concern. He has not had a good start to 2019 and will have to correct that quickly. One positive what Dhawan can take is, even before the 2015 World Cup he was struggling but ended up being India’s chart-topper in the main event.

Rohit Sharma who loves the Kangaroos has not yet replicated the love. We all know what happens when he gets going against the Aussies and it is just a matter of one knock before he gets back to his belligerent best.

If India want to give KL Rahul 3 games in the series, they can slot him at number 3 with the skipper batting at 4. Or else, Rahul will have to wait for India to clinch the series.

Ambati Rayudu’s ability to rotate strike has not yet been showcased. Apart from the one Kiwi game, post-Asia cup, he has been cold. Rahul could also be tried at 4 if the management group think likewise.

A surprise in the last ODI was Vijay Shankar batting ahead of MS Dhoni. He though didn’t disappoint as he stitched a breezy stand with the captain. He was unfortunate to get out but showed signs of why he needs to be on that flight.

The biggest gain though of that game was his bowling. Having bowled just one over prior to the 50th, he said he was eagerly waiting to get the ball in hand. He spoke of being ready to bowl the final over right from when the 43rd over began and kept his nerves to see India across the line..

Shankar, along with golden-arm Kedar Jadhav, blended perfectly for that fifth bowler.

India did win the game but with concerns. Their batting once again was questioned. Dhoni and Jadhav, who rescued the hosts in the opener, didn’t trouble the scorers in the second.

India should be proud of their effort with the ball. In both the games, they restricted the visitors be below 250 and now have bowled out oppositions 22 times post the Champions Trophy 2017, which is the most by any side.

With Siddarth Kaul leaving the side, Bhuvneshwar Kumar has been called back into the mix. This might also tell us that Kaul might not be used as a backup bowler. It will be a selection headache for Kohli with Shami also bowling well in tandem with Bumrah.

The spin trio of Kuldeep, Jadeja and slinger Jadhav did well to stop the flow of runs forcing Australia to a number of dot balls.

Virat Kohli named an unchanged XI in Nagpur but we sense a change or two for this one. Possibly Rahul could get the nod in Ranchi, but who will drop to the bench? Dhawan? Rayudu? Rishabh Pant is also warming the bench. Will India rest Kuldeep to fit in Chahal? Only time will tell.

From the Australian dressing room :

The Aussies will be hard-done-by the loss. Since 2017, they have played 33 ODIs winning just 8 of them, very unlike the 5-time champions. They failed to take the singles which cost them dear. Their positive will also be their bowling.

Finch for a change didn’t get out on a single digit score but failed to make the most of his start. Khawaja made the pitch look different but he too perished. Stoinis who partnered his skipper in the first ODI batted lower down the order. Should Australia open with Carey and get Finch at number 3? Australia have plenty on their plate but limited time to experiment.

Marsh who is known to play spin well didn’t have an answer either. He has a good record at number 4 but will bat at 3 unless the top order formation tinkers.

The middle order will continue being the same with Handscomb and Maxwell filling the rest of the gap. Ashton Turner who made his debut in the first game looks unlikely to start.

There is something with Stoinis and 50s. Each time the hulk has got past the fifty-run mark, his side has lost an ODI. He though missed a trick as he tried to unleash his inner Dhoni in the last over. His form will be crucial if the team from Down Under want to get any closer.

Pat Cummins made the most of his opportunity bagging a 4-wicket haul along with being economical. Finch went in with 2 spinners and might do the same for the next as Ranchi is not the flattest of tracks.

Justin Langer and the team will have to really pull out a rabbit from the hat if they want to take this series to the 4th ODI. Glenn Maxwell had a good outing when they came here in 2013. Their 295 is the highest total to date recorded at JSCA.

The 3rd ODI also doesn’t promise to be a high-scoring belter as the average score here is 249. Dhoni doesn’t have the best of stats at this venue but will have the backing of his hometown. The odds are with India to go and seal the series but the world is aware – no one can underestimate Australia.

The third ODI begins at 1.30 PM IST on Women’s Day in Ranchi.