Another bilateral series win at home barely a fortnight ahead of the World Cup would surely be on their minds when Team India take on Australia in the second ODI in Indore on Sunday.
Leading 1-0, a win at the Holkar Stadium would help India clinch the three-match series.
But alongside a series victory, equally important for the team would be the rhythm with which Mohammed Shami and Suryakumar Yadav, among the architects of India’s five-wicket win in the first ODI at Mohali, keep operating.
A five-for against a relatively strong batting unit, after losing his place in the XI to a younger and consistently improving Mohammed Siraj, was exactly what senior pacer Shami needed, while Surya finally proved his capability in the 50-over format with a crucial knock (50 off 49 balls) that made India’s chase smoother following a mini-collapse.
What has come as a bigger relief for the Indian team management is SKY, as Surya is known, delivering in the middle order. At Mohali on Friday, India still needed 92 when Surya joined stand-in captain KL Rahul in the middle. But whenever the ball was in his arc, Surya drove fluently and was at ease playing his trademark strokes.
Mentally, he seemed to be much better placed on Friday as the fluency, typical of Surya in the T20 format, was visible right from the onset.
Agreed, it wasn’t easy for him against Australia’s full-strength bowling attack, but this half-century under a little bit of pressure should keep Surya in a better frame of mind going forward. And if he produces another such knock at a critical juncture in Indore, the team management may even start looking at him as one of the automatic choices in the XI when the World Cup begins.
The innings that the in-form Shubman Gill and Ruturaj Gaikwad played at the top also bodes well for the side. More runs before the World Cup should further boost Gill’s Cup preparation and enable him to be at his best going into the showpiece event.
Rahul, too, seems to be in pretty good touch since his comeback, hitting another significant knock (58 not out) in a tricky situation.
As for Shami, he would only hope he retains his place in the XI on Sunday.
Senior off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, too, didn’t give much away in his comeback ODI, maintaining an economy rate of 4.7.