Team India made a comeback in the three-match series against Australia with a comprehensive victory in the second ODI at Rajkot on Friday. India defeated the Aussies by 36 runs to keep the series alive as some of its key players performed to their best after a rare snub in the first ODI at Wankhede on Tuesday.
Once again put to bat first after losing the toss, India rode on a stable yet quick 81 run opening stand between Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan before Sharma departed for a well made 42 in 14th over of the inning. Kohli who returned to his original batting position of number 3 also scored runs after a rare failure in the first match.
KL Rahul who came in at number 5 smashed a 52 ball 80 to help the team post a total of 340 runs on board. For the most part of the match, Indian batting looked much sorted as three of their top five batsmen scored in excess of 70 runs while one fell short 8 runs to his half-century.
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While the team management and skipper Kohli himself will be extremely satisfied with the batting performance ahead of the third and final ODI of the series that will also be decided, what will keep their tails up ahead of the match is their bowling performance and Shami and Bumrah returning to their best will boost their confidence ahead of the decider match that will be held in Kohli’s “second home” Bengaluru.
For a team which failed to claim even a single wicket in the first match, bowling out the whole Australian team inside 50 overs will definitely play the role of a morale booster. Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav also settled in their role well which will also keep their hopes up ahead of Sunday’s encounter.
Although the overall performance of the team was satisfying for the team management, there are issues and a few possible dilemmas the team management might have to address before Sunday. One among them will be to settle their batting line-up and fixing batting positions as Rishabh Pant is set to come back to the lineup after missing the second ODI due to concussion he suffered during the first ODI in Mumbai.
Although KL Rahul peddled both the roles of Pant (Batting at no. 5 and wicket keeping) extremely well, Pant’s inclusion into the playing XI on Sunday looks almost certain, which will mean shuffling the batting line-up once again. The move can prompt Kohli to once play KL Rahul at no. 3 and demote himself at 4 to fit in all the three openers of the squad in the playing XI looking at the form they are in. This can also put the axe once again on young Shreyas Iyer who would then have to bat five after batting at four on Friday. Iyer’s shuffling frequently has also impacted his performance graph which has not seen the up for a couple of matches now.
Another concern for the team management will be the fitness of Rohit Sharma, who injured himself with a dislocated arm in the 43rd over of the Australian inning while trying to save a boundary. With only one day’s gap before the match, Rohit’s ability to play on Sunday will only be confirmed on Saturday evening. In case Rohit fails to play on Sunday, Rahul will open the inning with Dhawan and the batting order will look fixed for just another match.
Virat Kohli speaking at the presentation, however, added that Rohit should be fine to play the final match. But an obvious update of Rohit’s inclusion in the game can only be confirmed on Saturday.
“Rohit's left shoulder has popped out of few times, and he should be good to go in the next game,” Virat said.
Pant’s inclusion mixed with Rohit Sharma’s availability for the match will mean Manish Pandey will face the axe from the line-up. In case Rohit is unavailable to play, Pandey can still face the axe and the team management may give inclusion of KedharJadhav a thought for the bowling option he provides to the captain. Especially after a nervous 10 minutes for Kohli early in the second inning of Friday when Navdeep Saini almost twisted his foot while trying to save a boundary and was off the field for a few minutes. Knowing Kohli went into the match with only five bowling option, Kohli had ‘Worried’ written all over his face until Saini came back to the field.
Excellent performance by all the bowlers to restrict Australia at 304 in the match after facing the heat of David Warner and Aaron Finch in the first match will have the pressure on the team management eased and they will most likely persist with the same bowling line-up for the decider encounter unless a forced change has to be made.
Australia, on the other hand, did not commit many mistakes on the field on Friday, barring an off day for the middle order in the office. But the team management or skipper Finch will not find themselves in need of pressing the panic button before Sunday’s game and are most likely to field the same XI. The only possible change the might make in the XI can be drafting Josh Hazlewood in the XI at the cost of Richardson to make their pace bowling more lethal than it is now.
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