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India look for assurance in Mohali

The series is still alive. Not many would have placed their bets on that before the 3rd ODI began but the Aussies are learning from their mistakes. It was a team effort that earned them a victory in Ranchi. If they were below par in the first ODI, they showed positive signs in the second and finally tasted success in the third. They now have a chance to take the series to the decider.

We were confirmed of a change when Sanjay Bangar at the post match conference said “There will certainly be some changes because Mahi (Dhoni) is not going to play the final two matches. He is taking rest.” and further added, “Shami got hurt today in his leg, so we will need to check whether he can be fit for the day after (fourth ODI). If he does not get fit, then Bhuvneshwar Kumar could come in.”

Dhoni and Shami are the mandatory changes but going by Kohli’s words in the post match presentation one can expect more. “We will have a few new faces and they will have to make the most of their chances because there is a World Cup coming and everyone wants to be on that flight. The guys are excited and looking forward to it. A little hiccup in the middle, but we will regroup and come back stronger,” Kohli said.

So, who else makes way? Has Dhawan done enough to get on the flight? Is Rayudu consistent for a number 4? Do they go in with an extra batsman or an extra bowler?

From the Indian dressing room:

The likes of Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and Ambati Rayudu are yet to fire in the Australia series. They have been getting starts but failing to make the most of them. Even though Rohit has not played to his potential, one can expect him to take the game away once he settles. Rayudu has had a fair amount of chances but has never really done justice to his slot. Cummins’ beauty to get him bowled made him look vulnerable against the new ball. However, that ball would have had many undone.

With Kohli hinting at changes, KL Rahul may jump into the side in place of Dhawan. A few games off may even help the left-handed opener get in a good frame of mind before the ICC event, which he fancies.

With Dhoni being given a break and Dinesh Karthik not in the squad, Rishabh Pant will have two ODIs to show his worth.

Once Kohli got out in the 3rd ODI, the Men in Blue lost their teeth. It was upto Vijay Shankar and Ravindra Jadeja to get 87 in the last 10 overs. Shankar was striking them well but couldn’t finish the job. Jadeja, who has two triple hundreds to his name in first-class cricket, has never quite pulled strings well with his gun.

Kedar Jadhav bowled just the two overs and conveyed that it does not happen everyday. Jadeja too went for runs. Kuldeep was well read at the start but then spun the game taking two wickets in an over. The positive was Shankar bowling 8 overs. If Kohli plans to field in an extra bowler, it could possibly be at the expense of the Saurashtra all-rounder. Or else, Chahal might swap with Kuldeep like we have seen before.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar will be the obvious choice to pair up with Bumrah, in place of the injured Shami.

After playing three ODIs without a change, it is cheat day for the Indian skipper. The Mohali pitch is good for batting. The latest game here saw the hosts post a marathon score of 392 against Sri Lanka with Rohit hitting 208 of them. If India were robbed of dew in Ranchi, Mohali should provide that.

From the Australian dressing room :

The Australians finally tasted victory in the series and will hope to carry the momentum into the 4th ODI. They bettered their own best at Ranchi and managed to cross the 250-run mark for the first time on this tour. They will look to add to that heading into a batting friendly track.

Skipper Finch looked in better rhythm in the 2nd ODI and added flavour to his knock in the third. He however, will not be happy with the fact that he didn’t get to the three figure mark. His partner, Khawaja managed to do that, registering his maiden ODI ton. Australia will hope for similar head-starts in the upcoming games.

Maxwell was promoted to number three and did well. Had he been there till the end, the Kangaroos would have possibly added 15-20 runs more. Marsh dropped to number 4 but that was more due to the match situation. If early wickets fall, we could see Marsh back at one-down.

The Australian middle order failed to capitalize on the start provided by the openers. At one stage, 350 looked gettable but it was a far-fetched one. Handscomb did not contribute to the total. The backup wicket-keeper could lose his spot to either D’Arcy Short and Ashton Turner.

Nathan Coulter-Nile will miss the fourth ODI too, due to the birth of his second child.

Pat Cummins and Adam Zampa have been the best of the Aussie bowlers. The pair has scalped 7 wickets each in the series so far, just one behind Kuldeep. With the Mohali boundary being big and the track more friendly to the pacers, Jason Behrendorff might get the nod ahead of offie, Nathan Lyon.

Australia could line up three fast bowlers – Jhye Richardson, Cummins and Behrendorff – along with one spinner in Adam Zampa. In the batting department, do not expect too many changes as they will not want to fidget with the unit that beat India.

Will the Aussies get the better of the hosts yet again and take it all the way to the finale or will a slightly changed Indian side seal the deal in Punjab?

The fourth ODI begins at 1:30 PM IST on Sunday, 10th March.