The third ODI encounter at Ranchi tomorrow may well determine the outcome of the India-Australia series given the current form of the home team, particularly that of Virat Kohli.
A 3-0 lead at this juncture will reduce the next two matches at Mohali and New Delhi to a mere academic interest.
Well ensconced with a 2-0 verdict in as many matches, the second one was a sensational win by eight runs at Hyderabad the other day, India is poised for a third successive triumph tomorrow provided all the loose ends noticed in the earlier matches are stitched.
So far it has been a series decided by the proficiency of one man-Virat Kohli who scored a brilliant century, his 40th in the ODI. Of course, Vijay Shankar and Bumrah have contributed a bit.
Taken as whole, the home team’s batting potential, the envy of many other counties, has been somewhat unimpressive. Though the team managed a 200+ in both the matches there was an element of struggle in reaching that figure. This is largely because of the loss of an early wicket raising doubts about the form of Rohit and Dhawan. In the last match India lost Rohit for no score on the board.
Kohli’s outstanding shows have compensated but that cannot be taken for granted. India needs a fairly decent opening wicket partnership from now on. Some feel that the batting order may be shuffled resting either of the two.
Ambati Rayudu from whom much was expected did not click and the rest save for Vijay Shankar have been just mediocre. A couple of changes are expected for tomorrow’s match.
It will be incorrect to the conclude that the Aussies have been outplayed. In both the matches they fought gallantly to be in the game till the final minutes. Their bowling has been steady with spinners Zampa and Lyon supported by Coulter-Nile shining in spells.
Usman Khawaja, Maxwell and Shaun Marsh should do better to give their team a winning total. Skipper Finch and Marcus Stonis are other impressive batsmen who can change fortunes of the team.
India starts from a position of advantage, but the visiting team can be expected to wage a grim battle to remain a force in the series.