Calcutta/Nagpur: Stung by the Aussies the other evening in Bangalore, India would look to end the ODI series on a high in the fifth and final game at the VCA Stadium, Jamtha, on Sunday.
It might well be another inconsequential tie as India have already taken an unassailable 3-1 lead, but both teams will be looking for a positive result as this game could go on to be the dress rehearsal for the T20I series. Winning on Thursday, another victory for Australia would give them the required momentum and put them in good stead going into the T20Is.
While for India, they need to set things back in order should they want to dominate and dictate terms against the visitors in the shortest format as well.
The game will be held on a wicket that has been re-laid since the last international match here - a T20I between India and England earlier in the year. Over the last two years, the VCA Stadium wicket has been a slow turner, producing low-scoring matches.
However, curator Pravin Hingnikar promised that it will be a sporting wicket on this occasion with consistent bounce to facilitate stroke-play. Dew also will not be a factor, the curator added.
What could worry India a bit is that all the three bowlers - Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav and Akshar Patel - who made their first appearance in the penultimate game the other day - proved expensive. However, that doesn't mean all three of them could be sent back to the reserve bench, as the likes of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah and Kuldeep Yadav may require more rest ahead of the matches that assume significance.
On the batting front, Lokesh Rahul may get a game as he remains the only batsman in the squad not to have played in the series so far. Openers Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane have ensured to given India strong starts and had set up a perfect platform in Bangalore as well with a second straight century partnership.
Hardik Pandya's promotion to number four in the batting order is something the team seems to be serious about. The ploy worked brilliantly in Indore, but did not yield a similar result on Thursday.
Pandya's promotion led to Mahendra Singh Dhoni being dropped to number six and the former captain hardly got time to get his eye in before going ballistic in the fourth ODI. Coming to bat ahead of Dhoni, Pandya and Kedar Jadhav did got some time to close out the game, but they were unable to do the finishing job. Pressure is mounting on Manish Pandey too as he is yet to score a half century in the series.
He got out at the wrong time at his home ground and it won't be a surprise if he gets replaced by Rahul. For Australia, they had their chances even in the earlier games as well. But they could grab the opportunities and make good use of them only in Bangalore when their chances of winning the series were all over.
Nonetheless, it was a much needed all-round performance that saw bowlers complementing the good work done by the batsmen, especially at the death. The pace trio of Pat Cummins, Nathan Coulter-Nile and Kane Richardson bowled with pace and precision in the death overs to take the game away from the Indians.
The batting looks a lot more potent ever since the return of Aaron Finch, who came up with a fine 94 after a sublime 124 on his comeback game. His opener partner David Warner too had a memorable game as he rose to the occasion to smash 124 in his 100th ODI.
It remains to be seen if Australia bring back the struggling Glenn Maxwell, who was dropped in the last game with wicketkeeper Matthew Wade taking his place. The other wicketkeeper in the squad, Peter Handscomb, did rather well with a timely 43 off 30 balls take his team well beyond 300.
Match starts: 1.30 pm