Chandigarh/Calcutta: On a high after a sensational performance that helped them level the series in Jaipur, India will look to keep the momentum going with another dominating display in the third ODI against Australia at the PCA Stadium, on Saturday.
Having made the second highest successful run-chase in limited-overs cricket look ridiculously easy, India would certainly look to pile on Australia’s agony and take a 2-1 lead in the seven-match series.
No wonder the bowlers will have their task cut out. It might not be a 350-plus wicket here, as claimed by Punjab Cricket Association curator Daljit Singh, but the Mitchell Johnsons and Clint Mckays have to play out of their skins to keep the rampaging Indian top-order at bay.
The curator is predicting a total around 280 with the bounce and carry on the pitch sure to help the batsmen.
India wouldn’t complain about another flat pitch as it neutralises Australia’s slight bowling advantage. Their top-order took full toll of the favourable conditions in Jaipur and crafted a win out of what had been a shoddy bowling performance from India's bowlers.
For George Bailey and his men, the quicker they get over the disappointment of their defeat — despite scoring a mammoth 359 for five — the better will it be for them.
Unlike the day before the Jaipur ODI, the full squad got down to practice in Mohali on Friday, reflecting the renewed intensity with which Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Co. are approaching the series.
To chase a target of 360 inside 44 overs is simply a Herculean effort, regardless of the condition of the pitch. The trio — Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli — with their mind-blowing show on Wednesday proved India are capable of overhauling any target if they fire in unison.
Dhawan’s 95 in Jaipur was mostly about brute power and taking the opponents by the scruff of their neck, while Rohit’s 141 was more about grace that has always been associated with this wristy Mumbaikar.
Kohli’s innings was all intimidation as he showed why he is turning out to be one of the premier batsmen in the limited-overs format.
His 52-ball-100 had everything… Skill, power, artistry… all of which goes into the making of a brilliant cricketer.
For Dhawan, it will be a homecoming of sorts as it all started at this very venue when he smashed a Test century on debut against the same opposition.
Since setting foot on the ground that day in March, Dhawan has amassed 1028 runs in international cricket — Tests, ODIs, and T20Is — at an average of 60.47 and a strike rate of 97.90.
With India’s top-three raising the bar, the likes of Suresh Raina, Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh will also be itching to perform and make their share of substantial contribution.
The only worrying factor for Team India is their bowling, which has been highly unimpressive so far in the series. Even Dhawan pointed out that bowling is one where India need to work on and ensure this shortcoming doesn’t go on to be a determining factor in the series.
While Dhoni doesn’t believe in tinkering with the playing XI, pace duo Ishant Sharma and Ranganath Vinay Kumar’s places in the team appears to be under the scanner.
Both have been dismal, with Australian batsmen hitting them to all corners of the ground.
On the other hand, a positive aspect of this Australian side is its batting that has been pretty consistent so far.
The dew factor, however, could come into effect in the second half. The team batting second will enjoy a slight advantage.
India (likely): Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Vinay Kumar, Ishant Sharma
Australia (likely): Aaron Finch, Phillip Hughes, Shane Watson, George Bailey, Adam Voges, Glenn Maxwell, Brad Haddin, James Faulkner, Mitchell Johnson, Clint McKay, Xavier Doherty
Match starts: 1.30 pm.