A mouth-watering series-deciding third match takes place in Bengaluru on Sunday as India and Australia head into the 3rd ODI level at 1-1 in the series.
A strong batting performance led by KL Rahul, and an equally commendable bowling performance led by Kuldeep Yadav gave India a facile 36-run win at Rajkot to level matters and set up a decider.
India bounced back from the lows of Mumbai with a clinical display. It helped that Virat Kohli went back to his number three position, while KL Rahul excelled in the refurbished no. 5 position. Barring Shreyas Iyer’s failure, there was nothing wrong with the Indian bating performance.
There were slight hiccups with the ball, though, as both ends of the match proved to be tricky. There were times when it looked like Australia would take the game deep, but Yadav made sure they didn’t. In the end, it was a satisfactory outing for all the Indian bowlers.
Regardless of the loss at Rajkot, Australia will be happy to see Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne among the runs. Their 96-run partnership for the third wicket sent shivers down the Indian camp. Had it not been for the loss of Labuschagne’s wicket, things could have been much different.
Adam Zampa continued his excellent tour with another three-wicket display, but concerns over Ashton Agar and the fifth bowling option remains in the camp. Even Kane Richardson went for plenty, casting doubts over his spot in the side – although he scored a rapid-fire 24 off 11 balls with the bat.
The series might have been drawn going into the final match, but concerns remain for both teams in all departments. India are a top-three dependent side, even though KL Rahul at five was a good pick. The injury to Shikhar Dhawan could be interesting, and should he not play, there could be another shuffle in the batting order. The visitors have a slight edge in their bowling, thanks to a settled pace unit. It could once again boil down to who wins the toss and bats first – especially with Bengaluru getting cooler later in the evening and dew becoming a factor.
History & Statistics
- India have lost their last four of their last five home matches against Australia.
- India have won five of the last seven completed ODIs at this venue, losing just once (W5, L1, T1).
- In all, India have won 13 of 20 ODIs played at this venue (W13, L5, T1, NR1).
- Australia have won 16 of their last 19 ODIs away from home, including neutral venues.
- Australia have won only two of seven H2Hs at this venue, but those two have come in the last three fixtures.
- The last four completed H2Hs at this venue were won by the team batting first.
- Three of the last four ODIs at this venue were won by the team batting first.
Shunted up and down the order and even given the gloves, KL Rahul seems to be enjoying the challenge. With question marks over the availability of Rohit and/or Dhawan, he could be sent back up the order as an opener.
Labuschagne proved that he belongs at this level and in the ODI team with a measured knock in Rajkot. Up until his dismissal, he looked in control of the chase as well.