The first ODI between India and Australia was considerably affected by rain in Chennai. The initial target of 282 runs from 50 overs with a required rate of 5.64 runs per over, set by India, was revised to 164 runs from 21 overs at a required rate of 7.80 runs an over. That situation could very well repeat itself in the second ODI at Kolkata at the Eden Gardens. It is predicted to rain for most part of the second ODI which could play spoilsport in India’s quest to double their lead and in Australia’s hopes of bringing the series back to parity following India’s 26 run (D/L method) win on Sunday.
The second match will provide the Indian batsmen to come good after disappointment in Chennai. Helped by Nathan Coulter-Nile’s fantastic opening sell, India were left in trouble early on and stood at 87/5 before Hardik Pandya and MS Dhoni steadied the ship and took the team over to a more than competitive score. For Australia, the second match, is an opportunity to prove that they’re better players of spin than what they showed against the wrist spin of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal who picked up five wickets between them. No wonder then that Australia practiced indoors to local wrist spinners.
Australian bowlers, too, would be up for the task after being smashed all over the park by Pandya who struck 83 runs in 66 balls and Dhoni who finished with 79 runs as their 118 run partnership shifted the balance of the game completely. As India languished at 87/5, former Australia captain Michael Clarke opined this was a great opportunity for the men in Baggy Green to seize the initiative and they could consider this as an opportunity lost. If Pandya’s surge as a batsman wasn’t enough, he delivered with the ball too to pick up two wickets.
Following the hammering, Australia could consider using more of the part time spinners Glenn Maxwell, Travis Head and Ashton Agar. “We have enough variation in our attack but it’s about executing your plans,” said Adam Zampa who suffered the most from Pandya’s thundering play. “In Australia you can mess up your length a little bit and you will probably get away with it purely because of the (size of ground). Here the length is very important.”
It remains unlikely that Australia will make any changes to the side but they could shuffle the batting lineup to shift Head to the opening slot and replace Hilton Cartwright. It could then see Glenn Maxwell, who nearly made a difference in Australia’s chase, or Marcus Stoinis move up the order.
For India, it is pleasing to see the lower middle order chip in even when the top order fails. Arguably the biggest positive is Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s steady head with the bat – scoring his maiden fifty against Sri Lanka and scoring 32 runs from 30 balls against Australia. One to watch out for will be Rohit Sharma who loves to feast at the Eden Gardens with his highest score of 264 runs coming at this venue.
If rain stays away, it will be the second ODI between India and Australia at Eden Gardens since TVS Cup in 2003.
India: Virat Kohli (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, KL Rahul, Ravindra Jadeja, Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami.
Australia: Steve Smith (c), David Warner, Hilton Cartwright, Matthew Wade (wk), Nathan Coulter-Nile, Pat Cummins, James Faulkner, Peter Handscomb, Travis Head, Glenn Maxwell, Adam Zampa, Kane Richardson, Marcus Stoinis and Aaron Finch.