India vs Australia, 2nd ODI: Visitors will have quite a few areas to work upon

steve smith Ranchi PCIndia would like their top order to come back amongst the runs after a rare failure on Sunday in the first of the five-match series and hope that the new spin duo of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal continue to trouble the Australian batting lineup when the two teams meet at the iconic Eden Gardens, Kolkata for the second ODI.

The visitors will have quite a few areas to work upon though, because off late, the world champions haven’t produced the results they would have liked.  In their last 10 completed ODIs, Australia have only won one game and that too against Ireland in 2016. Never in the history of Australian cricket have they lost nine out of 10 games in any phase of the sport. In the quest for their improving performance in Test match cricket, their rotation policy hasn’t had a good impact on the team setup as a whole.

But knowing the spirit with which Australia play their game, they will come back harder and try to level the series in the 2nd ODI. This was quite evident in their practice sessions. To solve the mystery of the Indian wrist spinner, Australian players were taking help from the local wrist spinners to come up with an answer. While Kerala’s KK Jiyas helped them before the Chennai ODI, two local club bowlers — Ashutosh Shibram and Rupak Guha — provided some practice to the Aussie batsmen, in Kolkata. If they solve this mystery, Australia would definitely stand a chance against the hosts.

A big positive from the ODI in Chennai for the visitors is the form of Pat Cummins and Nathan Coulter- Nile and the way they went past the Indian Batting order in Chennai. In the Eden Gardens, where the wicket has been more seam friendly off late, with a bit of a grass on it, Australia would fancy their chances with the opening bowlers being well supported by the medium pace of Marcus Stoinis.

Coulter Nile also enjoys the experience of playing at the Eden Gardens before and he has taken eight wickets in four IPL games that he has played for his IPL Franchise Kolkata Knight Riders. Focus would also be on David Warner and Steven Smith to provide support and hold the innings together and the all-round performance of players like Stoinis and Glenn Maxwell.

The Indian team on the other end would expect some runs from their third openerAjinkya Rahane and would hope that their run machines-Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma come back to scoring ways. With the Rohit Sharma- Eden Gardens love affair is well known, it won’t be a surprise if he scores big in the match on Thursday. Rohit Sharma has an average of 113.42 in his last nine innings (across all formats) at Eden Gardens. ViratKohli will look to make up for his failure in Chennai. Other than that India are pretty much settled with the lower middle order showing great strength and skills as MS Dhoni, Hardik Pandya and even Bhuvneshwar Kumar all have contributed with the bat.

As far as changes are concerned, India are only looking at a good bet for No. 4 With Manish Pandey going for a two-ball duck, KL Rahul might be tried, but there is minute chance of that happening since Pandey deserves a longer run as he has proved his worth time and time again. Although Ravindra Jadeja has been included in the squad he may not feature in the playing 11, partly because of the rotation policy, partly because there is no need to change the balance of the side, with the Australian batting having a tough time against the new spin duo.

Australia’s debutant Hilton Cartwright might be replaced by someone like Travis Head at the opening slot along with the pocket size dynamo David Warner. With Travis opening, either Maxwell or Stoinis can fit in at No. 4 to provide just the right balance. An alternative would be playing Peter Handscomb, but since he hasn’t been tried at the opening slot regularly and Stoinis bowled a tidy spell in Chennai ODI, Handscomb might have to wait for a little long for his turn.

 India versus Australia

21st September 2017, Thursday

 - 01:30 PM IST

Live from the Eden Gardens, Kolkata