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Cricket news - Time to weed out the bad habits
Virat Kohli began this limited-overs series with a warning to his World Cup-bound players about picking up 'bad habits' during the IPL. As it has turned out, a couple of his players may already be in need of some self-analysis and we're still two weeks away from the start of the IPL.
It is not panic stations yet, far from it actually. India lead Australia 2-1 despite the Ranchi reverse and remain favourites to close out the series at Mohali. However, bilateral results are secondary at this point, two months out from a World Cup - try telling that to Australia whose last series win was more than two years ago. But India, one of the preeminent ODI sides of this generation, have been genuinely puzzled by the fact that the usually well-oiled parts of their ODI machinery are creaking.
Curiously, they have lost ground at the top of the innings. Shikhar Dhawan is without a 50-plus score for seven innings now with each of pace, swing and off-spin exposing chinks in his game. Australia have forced the southpaw into playing risky, release shots by denying him room to manoeuvre easy runs with packed fields in front of the wicket. Ditto with Ambati Rayudu, who has had his old wounds against the seaming ball exposed once again by Cummins & Co. India were also lacklustre with their ground fielding in Ranchi (barring a moment of Jadeja-Dhoni brilliance) and have now gone two games without taking a wicket in the batting powerplay.
After a 2018 to forget, Australia can already see a few more chinks of light, literally and metaphorically. The sight of Aaron Finch and Usman Khawaja back among the runs in Ranchi comes as a soothing balm for a side looking to rediscover its identity. Jhye Richardson impressed in his first outing of the series, combining effectively with Adam Zampa and Pat Cummins to break the back of India's chase. The hard-nosed Justin Langer, though, will admit that Australia have improvements to make to their death-overs batting. The visitors finished poorly in Ranchi, making only 69 in the final 10, a statistic that could have cost them dearly in the match and the series.
When: India vs Australia, 4th ODI, March 10, 2019, 13:30 IST
Where: PCA IS Bindra Stadium, Mohali
What to expect: A large part of playing strategy will centre around Mohali's large square boundaries. Running between the wickets and defending/attacking the shorter straight boundaries will be crucial as evidenced in the last clash between these two sides at this venue during the 2016 T20 WC. Temperate weather (max. 25 degree Celsius) and a hospitable pitch will keep those in search of runs in a temperate mood. The last time an ODI was played here, India scored 392 with Rohit Sharma making 208.
India: The Indian captain promised changes and chances for fringe players at the presentation ceremony in Ranchi. That was followed by news of a rest for MS Dhoni. That paves the way for Rishabh Pant, who will have two chances to prove that he, and not Dinesh Karthik, should go to the World Cup as the team's reserve keeper. KL Rahul would love some game time himself although that is unlikely to come at the expense of Dhawan, who the team is backing to regain his form. Mohammed Shami, who went off the field in Ranchi with a minor injury, should make way for Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
India remain uncertain about Ravindra Jadeja's role in the side with the all-rounder yet to provide the batting assurance at No. 8 that helped him pip Yuzvendra Chahal in the first place. A rollback could be in the offing with the wrist spinner offering more of an attacking threat with the ball.
Probable XI: Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli (c), Ambati Rayudu, Rishabh Pant (wk), Kedar Jadhav, Vijay Shankar, Ravindra Jadeja/Yuzvendra Chahal, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah
Australia: Given the short turnaround ahead of this game, Australia will be unable to include Nathan Coulter-Nile (paternity leave) back in the side. A toss up between playing an additional seamer - Jason Behrendorff - and a spinner - Nathan Lyon - will be the only major selection call for Finch and Langer.
Probable XI: Aaron Finch (c), Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, Peter Handscomb, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Alex Carey (wk), Adam Zampa, Pat Cummins, Jhye Richardson, Nathan Lyon/Jason Behrendorff
Did you know?
- Australia have a good record in ODIs in Mohali, winning five out of the six matches they played here, including all four since 1997.
- If Virat Kohli scores a century in the fourth ODI, he will become the first player to score three successive hundreds in ODIs on two separate occasions.
- Shikhar Dhawan has now played 17 consecutive innings since his last ODI hundred - the joint longest for him. He endured a similar lean patch between December 2013 and October 2014 without a three-figure score.
What they said:
"He's [Dhawan] an important player for us, and we know that if he gets going, he can give us that solidity. It's also vital to have the right-left combination going, so he's a hugely valuable player for us, and we are expecting him to come good very soon." - Sanjay Bangar
"I have been training really hard and working on my game as hard as I possibly can. I have always had the faith I would get some runs." - Aaron Finch
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