India face Australia in the second one-day international (ODI) at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Rajkot with the series on the line. Kohli and Co. will go into the game 0-1 down after a thrashing in Mumbai, courtesy David Warner and Aaron Finch, who hit unbeaten hundreds. The talking point going into the match has been Kohli’s batting position and it is certain that the Indian captain will return at his favoured number three spot.
Kohli’s batting average while playing outside number three, since the start of 2015 is a meager 9.43. He managed to score 66 runs in 8 innings with the highest score of 16.
With a concussed Rishabh Pant out of the second game, Rahul is a certainty as he will keep wickets.
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It would also be interesting to see which among the experienced Kedar Jadhav and rookie Shivam Dube makes the squad.
The toss-up could be between Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav as Ravindra Jadeja looks certain to keep his spot.
On the other hand, a high on confidence Australia will be looking to seal the issue to register back to back series wins in India, a rare feat for any visiting team. The Finch-Warner combination will look forward to carrying the momentum.
Their middle-order comprising the experienced Steve Smith, in-form Marnus Labuschange, Ashton Turner and Alex Carey looks more or less settled.
If all of them fire in unison, along with the openers, then it will hard for the opposition bowlers.
However, it will be quite a test of their middle-order at the Saurashtra Cricket Association stadium.
Rajkot not happy hunting ground for India
India have a dismal ODI record at the Saurashtra Cricket Association stadium in Khanderi as they have lost on both the previous occasion when they played at the venue.
India first played a ODI at the SCA Stadium on January 11, 2013 against England and lost by nine-runs in a thriller. Then they played their second ODI against South Africa at the same venue on October 18, 2015 and this time they lost by 18 runs.
So, the Virat Kohli-led side, who are 0-1 down in the three-match series, would surely like to change the record to keep themselves afloat in the series.
Meanwhile, Australia is unbeaten in 50-over format when they have played in Rajkot. Australia have played only one ODI against India here and won that game.
The team from Down Under then played a lone T20 at the SCA Stadium where they suffered a drubbing at the hands of the hosts.
Australia first played in Rajkot on October 7, 1986 at the old stadium and Australia had won the match by 7 wickets, chasing a 261-run target, with then skipper Allan Border remaining unbeaten on 91.
Then a T20 match between the two sides was played at SCA stadium on October 10, 2013, which was won by the hosts by six wickets.
Pitch Report: The 22 yards at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium tends to favour the batsmen but spinners are expected to play a role. Sunny skies and a dry pitch will surely bring the tweakers into play. However, only two ODIs have been played at the stadium, and it was South Africa’s Morne Morkel who enjoyed success by resorting to sharp bouncers and the slower short ball in 2015.
Watch Series Preview:
Form guide – (last five completed matches)
India: Virat Kohli (Captain), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, K L Rahul (wicketkeeper), Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, Shivam Dube, Ravindra Jadeja, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Navdeep Saini, Jasprit Bumrah, Shardul Thakur and Mohammed Shami.
Australia: Aaron Finch (Captain), Alex Carey (Wicket-keeper), Patrick Cummins, Sean Abbott, Ashton Agar, Peter Handscomb, Josh Hazlewood, Marnus Labuschange, Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Ashton Turner, David Warner and Adam Zampa.
Match starts at 1.30.
(With PTI inputs)