January 20, 2016
Start time 1420 local (0320 GMT)
Catch-22: Will R Ashwin get a recall or will India play with two half bowlers again? © AFP
By the way of losing the series so abysmally India have given themselves a golden opportunity at limited-overs regeneration. Hardly ever do they get a chance to play international cricket with little exception; now they have two matches coming up with few expecting them to win. Expectation brings pressure, pressure inhibition. Now is the best time for them to shed inhibition. Just start that final push early and don’t worry about the weak lower middle order. Just bowl those bouncers and forget about the hooks and the wides. Tinker with combinations, although the selectors haven’t left them much room. If it comes off, who knows what wonders the knowledge that it can come off can do.
Not much is likely to change by the way of the strategy of the opposition and the conditions. If anything, Canberra’s Manuka Oval is an even bigger playing surface, which leaves no place to hide for weaker throwing arms. Australia want to move on from 17 to 18 and 18 to 19. Their winning streak at home now stands at a world-record 17, but Steven Smith reckons there is still room for improvement. They will want to improve on the fact that they have taken a total of five wickets in the first 30 overs of the three matches. They won’t want to inherit the dead-rubber syndrome of the old Australia. Two of those are coming up; will the foot continue to be on India’s throat?
Australia: WWWWL (last five completed matches, most recent first)
In the spotlight
His batting in finishing the Melbourne ODI deserves all the headlines, but whisper it quietly: among those who have bowled a minimum of 15 overs in this series where being defensive has been the only option, Glenn Maxwell has the best economy rate, of 5.61. India will feel it is criminal to have let him bowl eight overs for no serious damage, which takes pressure off Smith should one of his main bowlers have an off day.
The best economy rate for India unsurprisingly belongs to Ravindra Jadeja, who came into his own on a slightly slower and drier surface at the MCG. Axar Patel might have felt a little hard done by when Jadeja came right back into the ODI team based on Test form while the incumbent even kept winning one-day matches for his state side single-handedly. With the series gone now, perhaps India can try both of them in the same game; it doesn’t really make sense naming two players in a squad when you are never going to play them together.
While David Warner had been away on paternity leave, Shaun Marsh scored two fifties, but he knows well Australia don’t go sentimental over these things when it comes to selections. Earlier in the summer he nearly scored a double-century, but had to make way when the batsmen he replaced was back. Warner, though, has said that he needs to justify his place given the pressure from Shaun Marsh. It will be interesting to see if they give Nathan Lyon a game, keeping in mind they have picked him for the Twenty20s.
Australia (probable) 1 David Warner, 2 Aaron Finch, 3 Steven Smith (capt.), 4 George Bailey, 5 Glenn Maxwell, 6 Mitchell Marsh, 7 Matthew Wade (wk), 8 James Faulkner, 9, John Hastings, 10 Kane Richardson, 11 Nathan Lyon/Scott Boland
In Melbourne India kept R Ashwin out to give them two half bowlers, but saw the ball turn, the lack of which had made Ashwin ineffective in the first two games. The catch-22 will continue. Barinder Sran seemed burnt out playing his third ODI in six days and in three different time zones. He could make way for Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
India (probable) 1 Shikhar Dhawan, 2 Rohit Sharma, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Ajinkya Rahane, 5 Manish Pandey/Gurkeerat Mann, 6 MS Dhoni (capt. & wk), 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 R Ashwin/Rishi Dhawan, 9 Ishant Sharma, 10 Umesh Yadav/Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 11 Barinder Sran/Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
Pitch and conditions
Another flat pitch and warm day is expected in Canberra, which should set up a similar contest of runs.
Stats and trivia
- India last beat Australia in Australia in an international game back in February 2012. Since then they have lost nine matches and drawn two. Since the start of their 2011-12 tour, India have faced Australia in Australia in 19 completed international matches. They have drawn two Tests, and won an ODI and a T20I each. They have lost everything else.
- Glenn Maxwell has now been dismissed in the 90s on four occasions. In his playing span, only Kane Williamson has managed to do this more often: six times.
- Virat Kohli’s average against Australia in Australia was 15..81 before this series began. It has now risen up to 40.22.
“Absolutely no shame in the way they played. In spite of the results. I know there is only one way to go after this tour of Australia, and that is up.”
Ravi Shatsri is as optimistic as ever
“The boys are playing fantastic cricket. The way we are going out there and addressing the situation is phenomenal. Especially the batting. Credit to the top order, and I was very very excited to see Glenn Maxwell play a mature innings and carry us home.”
David Warner has more reasons for his outlook to be sunny
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Source: ESPN Crickinfo