India vs Australia, Ind vs Aus 5th ODI: The fifth and final one-day international (ODI) at Feroz Shah Kotla in New Delhi will be another thrilling finale in the ever-evolving chapters of India vs Australia. Since 2001, the two sides have met each other six times in a five-match series with the balance in favour of Australia at 3-2. India should have made it all square already, but the Kangaroos levelled the series in Mohali by chasing down a record 359.
What was meant to be an exercise in ironing out deficiencies ahead of the World Cup has now suddenly exposed quite a few chinks in India’s armour, with Virat Kohli and his teammates being pushed to the limit in home conditions.
Now with one game to play in the series, it is the home team that finds itself in a tricky spot, because a loss to Australia, which has had a poor record in limited overs cricket in the past few years, would be detrimental to their World Cup preparation. India had already lost the Twenty20 International (T20I) series 2-0, and to then lose the ODI series, from a position of confidence, would take the team two steps back.
India in the spotlight
Just before the start of the series, India were tipped as strong contenders for the ICC Cricket World Cup, but are now suddenly being challenged by a Australian squad believed to be at half strength. Given the larger picture and its long-term implications, a win is imperative for the Indian team. Experiments may need to be put on hold for now and the approach should be to go in with the best playing XI.
First and foremost Kohli should be back at his number three position simply because his impact at four reduces considerably. Not only does his average drop from 63.67 to 56.48, but his strike rate also drops from 94.15 to 90.49. If the choice does boil down to Ambati Rayudu/ KL Rahul then the former is a better option at four since he has been backed for a considerable time.
Another option is Vijay Shankar who has shown the temperament to bat at that position. Compared to Rayudu, Shankar’s ability to rotate the strike backed by a strong defensive technique, does put him up for consideration . But if Shankar does play at No. 4, then the No. 7 spot in the batting lineup becomes empty.
Bowling coach Bharat Arun was all praise for the all-rounder when he said, “Vijay Shankar’s batting has rubbed off on his bowling. He used to bowl around 120kph before but now can touch 130. He is a huge positive for us.”
The difference between Mohali and Kotla will be the sluggish bounce on offer, so going in with three specialist spinners is an idea that the Indian think-tank can consider. A spin bowling all-rounder instead of fast bowling seems like a more sensible option.
Arun also confirmed that Mohammad Shami is fit, having missed the fourth ODI due to a slight niggle he picked in the third ODI. Bhuvneshwar Kumar might have to sit out the game if Shami returns.
India did cancel its practice session, but fielding drills and a wicket-keeping session for Rishabh Pant might have done a world of good. Letting go of five chances – two of which were sitters – is something a side tipped to be World Cup champions cannot afford.
Bad fielding, along with excessive experimentation in the series, is suddenly making India seem slightly unstable. A win, especially a comprehensive one, will bring some confidence back into the side. Reading too much into the last match is unnecessary in the grand scheme of things – for England and Wales won’t offer as much dew and neither will the Indian team spill 5 chances in an inning. Hopefully.
Australia eye a huge upset
Courtesy of their outstanding comebacks at Ranchi and Mohali, Australia have levelled the series and lie on the cusp of causing an upset in Kohli’s hometown. The last time they won a bilateral ODI series in India was in 2009 and overall, their last series win was in 2016/17.
Unlike India, the visitors have been able to forge a stable unit. Aaron Finch has had a jittery series but it is Usman Khawaja who has stabilised things at the top. It is helped by the big-hitting prowess of Glenn Maxwell and Ashton Turner in the middle to keep the inning going and take things up a notch if required.
The Australian squad is likely to remain unchanged with Marcus Stoinis still unfit. The only change that could occur is in the bowling department where, depending on the pitch, Nathan Lyon could find a slot in the starting eleven.
Probable XI: Aaron Finch (c), Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, Peter Handscomb, Glenn Maxwell, Ashton Turner, Alex Carey (wk), Pat Cummins, Jhye Richardson, Adam Zampa, Jason Behrendorff/Nathan Lyon
Pitch and conditions
Everybody’s eyes will be on what happens after sunset and which team will bear the brunt of the dreaded dew. However, rains have complicated matters a bit, because if there are heavy clouds, then the formation of dew will be minimal. But if the rains are followed by bright sunshine then dew will come into play.
Temperatures are expected to hover around 25 degrees and conditions are expected to be slightly cloudy. The pitch will be on the slower side, hence the team which wins the toss might look to bat first and defend.
India vs Australia 5th ODI Squads
India: Virat Kohli (captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Ambati Rayudu, Kedar Jadhav, Vijay Shankar, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Ravindra Jadeja, Yuzvendra Chahal, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Rishabh Pant (wk).
Australia: Aaron Finch, Usman Khawaja, Peter Handscomb, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Ashton Turner, Jhye Richardson, Adam Zampa, Andrew Tye, Pat Cummins, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Alex Carey, Nathan Lyon, Jason Behrendorff.