January 23, 2016
Start time 1420 local (0320 GMT)
Virat Kohli has 373 runs from 373 balls in this series to lead the run charts going into the final game, but is yet to finish on the winning side © Getty Images
The first three matches in this one-day series were remarkably similar but in Canberra, Australia found a new way to win. Or India found a new way to lose. It wasn’t exactly clear which. Chasing for the first time in the series, India were well on track for their first victory at 1 for 277 in the 38th over, needing 349. A remarkable collapse was required to lose from there. And they got one. Nine wickets for 46 in less than 13 overs. Not since Malcolm Turnbull ousted Tony Abbott last year has the weight of numbers in Canberra changed sides so rapidly.
Now the challenge for India is to lift themselves up after such a demoralising defeat. They are 4-0 down and in serious danger of being whitewashed, clean-swept, whatever you want to call it. Their first bilateral one-day series in Australia might end in unilateral disarmament of India’s attack. For that is what has cost them dearest throughout the series, the inability to restrict Australia on good batting surfaces. Five of Australia’s bowlers have economy rates under six in this series; only two of India’s have. Perhaps the SCG will offer more spin – at least that would be a different way to end the series.
Australia: WWWWW (last five completed matches, most recent first)
In the spotlight
Nathan Lyon might be Australia’s most successful Test offspinner of all time, but he still hasn’t reached double figures in terms of ODI matches played. Australia’s selectors have traditionally been reluctant to let Lyon work in the short forms, afraid that he might lose the flight and loop that has made him such a valuable Test bowler. But surely at 28 and with little left to prove in terms of his Test worth, Lyon can be trusted enough to jump formats. He even opened the bowling in Canberra, a strong hint that captain Steven Smith has been waiting for a frontline spinner in his ODI side.
So long have India’s top-order men batted in this series that MS Dhoni has been reduced largely to cameos. A couple have been of the Quentin Tarantino variety – brief and brutal – but in Canberra it was more an Alfred Hitchcock blink-and-you’ll-miss-it appearance. His duck precipitated India’s collapse, and he later declared his own wicket the turning point. If in Sydney the runs flow a little less freely for Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli, it might be time for more of a Clint Eastwood starring role from Dhoni.
There seems little reason for Australia to make changes to their winning side, with Shaun Marsh and Scott Boland likely to sit out once again.
Australia (possible) 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
Ajinkya Rahane split the webbing of his right hand while fielding in Canberra and is likely to miss the Sydney game, which could mean a return for Manish Pandey. If the SCG is expected to spin, R Ashwin should come back to replace one of the seamers, perhaps Rishi Dhawan. Axar Patel may also be considered for the first time in the series.
India (possible) 1 Shikhar Dhawan, 2 Rohit Sharma, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Manish Pandey, 5 MS Dhoni (capt & wk), 6 Gurkeerat Singh, 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 R Ashwin, 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 10 Umesh Yadav, 11 Ishant Sharma
Pitch and conditions
The Sydney pitch should offer a little more turn. The weather forecast is for a shower or two, and a possible storm on Saturday.
Stats and trivia
- India will drop from No. 2 to No. 3 on the ODI rankings if they lose this match
- Virat Kohli has scored at such a consistent tempo through this series that his strike-rate is exactly 100 – he is on top of the series run tally with 373 runs from 373 deliveries
- Aaron Finch and Steven Smith both reached 2000 ODI runs in the Canberra game, Finch the equal third-fastest Australian to the milestone and Smith the equal sixth-fastest
- Australia have now won 18 consecutive ODIs at home, last losing to South Africa in Perth in November 2014
“We’ve played some very good one-day cricket so far this VB series. It’ll be a fitting finish to the summer if we can finish 5-0.”
Australia’s Steven Smith
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo