Canberra, December 1
Left chasing shadows in the first two One-day Internationals against Australia, India would most certainly tweak their bowling combination in order to avoid a second successive clean sweep when they take on the hosts in the in third and final ODI here tomorrow.
A 3-0 defeat by Australia would be their second rout in consecutive ODI series as they suffered the same fate in New Zealand earlier this year.
“We are very much determined to go out there to win the next match and see that it’s not a clean sweep,” top-order batsman Shreyas Iyer today said when asked what his team would do to prevent being whitewashed by Australia for the first time in 20 years. “Our bowlers are really positive with their work ethic and we could see that during training, a few of the bowlers practising with certain plans.”
The first two games turned out to be run-fests in which Australia out-batted Virat Kohli’s men and before they switch over to the T20 series, a win at the picturesque Manuka Oval could do their confidence a world of good.
Kohli admitted his team had been “outplayed” in the first two games, and it is expected that some corrective measures would be taken in order to get their campaign back on track. Navdeep Saini, India’s quickest bowler, has looked clueless. Such has been Saini’s plight that after he gave away 70 runs in seven overs, Kohli was forced to bring on Hardik Pandya — not yet completely fit for bowling — and even Mayank Agarwal.
Saini could well be replaced tomorrow by either Shardul Thakur — who has played 27 international games — or rookie left-arm pacer Thangarasu Natarajan, who won acclaim for his yorkers during the IPL. If he makes his international debut, Natarajan would get a chance to test himself in an inconsequential game before the start of the T20 series, in which he is sure to play a part.
In case Kohli decides to rest both Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami, who need to remain fit and fresh for the Test series, both Thakur and Natarajan could play tomorrow.
Natarajan, with his clever variations and change of pace, could provide a different dimension to the bowling attack at a venue that might aid swing bowling.
Never before has an Indian bowling attack looked so out of sorts as it did in the first two games, getting hit for 69 fours and 19 sixes. Kohli said that switching from the T20 format in the IPL to ODIs here can’t be an excuse for a team whose core has remained pretty much the same for a considerable period of time.
The bowlers had no idea where to bowl to Steve Smith, who tormented them with back-to-back 62-ball-hundreds. Glenn Maxwell’s power-packed finishing at the end of the innings gave Australia those extra 30 runs that made a big difference, as the margins of the defeats (66 and 51 runs) suggest.
The Indian captain’s hasty bowling changes, including a two-over opening spell to key man Bumrah, invited criticism from one of his staunchest critics, Gautam Gambhir.
The spinners have compounded Kohli’s worries with their inept performances. Yuzvendra Chahal has been the most expensive bowler in the two games, conceding 160 runs in 19 overs for only one wicket. Ravindra Jadeja has looked flat despite a decent economy rate of 6.15.
In batting, Kohli and Rahul looked in good touch during the second game but the inability of Rahul to rotate the strike during the second Powerplay was glaring. Still, India can take solace from the fact that in both matches, the batting looked the part and maybe, a target of 335 to 340 could have been chased on both occasions. — PTI