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Aussie home truth for Kohli’s men

India have to make a steep climb over obstacles if they want to win the 2nd ODI and keep the series alive
India's captain Virat Kohli laughs as he gets ready for a practice session ahead of the second one-day international cricket match between India and Australia in Rajkot on Thursday

Sayak Banerjee   |   Rajkot   |   Published 16.01.20, 09:53 PM

For the third time in as many months, India find themselves in a must-win situation after losing the opening game of a three-match series.

On the previous two occasions of this long home leg, India did prevail over Bangladesh (T20I series) and the West Indies (ODIs). But the problem this time around is, Australia are no Bangladesh or the Windies.

If they are in a dominant position, the Aussies make sure to keep dominating, something David Warner and captain Aaron Finch validated at the Wankhede.

So India have to make a steep climb over obstacles if they are to win the second and penultimate ODI at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium on Friday and keep the series alive.

Cricket is a game of uncertainties, and one may still see Virat Kohli and his men having the last laugh.

What happened earlier this week was utter humiliation at home, which Team India went through after more than a decade. The team management, though, doesn’t seem to be too worried.

“Basically, I would say the country is not prepared to see us collapsing in such situations. But you know, it’s part and parcel of the game. You’ve got to take it in your stride and move forward,” said middle-order batsman Shreyas Iyer, putting on a brave face.

One ought to remember that last year, when India hosted an Australian side minus Steve Smith and David Warner, Kohli’s team lost both the ODI and T20I series. Another disappointment on Friday would mean back-to-back home series defeats versus the Aussies, and that may lead to uncomfortable questions for the team management.

The onus is certainly on Kohli to lead his team from the front in such a situation.

The current scenario is obviously a tougher one to deal with as Australia boast of a far superior side than the likes of Sri Lanka, the Windies and Bangladesh. Kohli’s urgency during Thursday’s optional practice session appeared to have been doubled.

He spent considerable time taking throw-downs and batting against quicks and spinners. He looked steady against Jasprit Bumrah and Navdeep Saini (who may replace Shardul Thakur) and also took no half-measures when facing spin.

Whether the skipper again comes in at No. 4 or goes back to his original No. 3 slot remains to be seen. But not just Kohli, even players like Rahul and Iyer need to ensure they cash in after getting a decent start.

To talk of the Aussies, who don’t seem to have done anything wrong post the World Cup semi-final defeat, they look to be focusing on fine-tuning their strengths. 

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