Stung by the defeat in the series opener despite putting up a big score, India will have to plug their bowling loopholes when they take on Australia in the second cricket one-dayer in Brisbane, fully aware that any slip-up will make their task of bouncing back difficult. (Rohit Sharma Stresses Importance of Taking Wickets in Middle Overs)
Chasing an imposing 310, Australia romped home with ease by registering a comfotable five-wicket win to take a 1-0 lead in the five-match series at Perth on Tuesday.
And at the Gabba, the visitors would be hoping to make life difficult for Australia but for that to happen Mahendra Singh Dhoni would be expectiing a much-improved show from his bowlers. (James Faulkner Expects Brisbane Pitch To Be More Competitive Than WACA)
The five bowlers India played proved to be inadequately short at the WACA, particularly the spin duo of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, who had a bad day in office.
For India, there is definitely scope for permutations and combinations among the old names.
Lanky pacer Ishant Sharma is fit and available for selection. If Dhoni decides to go in with the same combination which he fielded in Perth, Ishant could come in for Bhuvneshwar Kumar. (Mahendra Singh Dhoni And Co. Will Have to Live With Bad Umpiring Decisions, Says Brad Haddin)
The WACA wicket was slower than expected, but the Gabba pitch is not expected to be similar which provides Dhoni enough reasons to contemplate going in with four pacers.
Dhoni urges bowlers to be consistent
But the performance of his spin duo would be a concern for Dhoni going into the match. (Mahendra Singh Dhoni Says He Did Not Bank on Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja Having a Bad Day in Perth)
Both Ashwin and Jadeja were off-colour in the series opener. While the former gave away 68 runs for two wickets from his nine overs, the latter too was expensive costing 61 runs from as many overs without any success.
And come it will be interesting to see what kind of impact either Ashwin or Jadeja can make as they will look to shrug off the poor show in the previous game.
But consistency is something which Dhoni would look for from bowling attack.
To add to it, Dhoni also does not have definitive part-time options to fall back upon.
Young left-arm pacer Barinder Sran, who made his debut in the last match, was the eye-catcher for India in the losing cause in Perth.
He picked up three wickets giving away 56 runs and the tall Punjab pacer would be hoping for a repeat performance.
India’s other two fast bowlers — Bhuvneswar Kumar and Umesh Yadav were not that effective in Perth as both failed to make an impression. While Bhuvneswar was economical Yadav gave away some runs but both failed to trouble the Australian batsmen much.
The wicket for the match should be more to the seamers’ liking, not a green top definitely, but rather one with ample bounce and pace.
On the batting front, there isn’t much to complain about for India.
India rode on Rohit Sharma’s unbeaten 171 and vice-captain Virat Kohli’s 91 to post 309 runs on the board, a feat never achieved by an Indian team in three ODIs played previously in Perth.
And thus, it can be assumed that the batsmen will be asked to shoulder even more responsibility going ahead.
But one of the criticism emanating from that loss in Perth was that Rohit and Kohli did not do enough to push the scoring rate towards the end.
There has been considerable talk about the top-three batsmen trying to do a bit more, in terms of strike-rate, especially if one or two of them get going like in Perth.
Steven Smith form ominous for India
But it would be a little harsh to put the blame on the batsmen as Dhoni himself had said that 309 was a defendable score. (India Will Have to Find Way to Get Rid of Steven Smith, Says Sunil Gavaskar)
The Indians, however, would be wary about the form of Australian skipper Steven Smith.
Chasing the imposing target, Australia rode on captain Smith’s fluent 149 to script the comfortable win in Perth. Smith turned out to be India’s nemesis again, pacing his innings to perfection.
If the Indians were to win the ongoing five-match ODI series in Australia, the visitor’s will have to find a way to dismiss Smith early. George Bailey, another centurion for Australia with a 112-run knock in Perth, too would be hoping to carry on his form.
Australia, however, will be without the services of both David Warner and Mitchell Marsh, both of whom are unavailable for the second ODI.
While Warner is away on paternal leave, (was blessed with a second child early this morning), and will be rejoining the squad for the Melbourne ODI, Mitchell Marsh has been rested to manage his workload.
In Warner’s absence, it provides a great opportunity for Mitchell’s brother Shaun Marsh to sneak into the playing eleven.
In-form Usman Khawaja has also been called up to the squad in Warner’s absence, and he will be part of the toss-up for the missing opener’s spot as well.
John Hastings will come in to take the all-rounder’s slot in the middle order, as Australia look set to go in with an all-pace attack once again.