From the series point of view, India had already wrapped it up with victories in the first two ODIs in Mohali and Indore. Yet, the inconsequential third and final game in Rajkot on Wednesday carried some importance as it was the last chance for both India and Australia to fine-tune their skills before their World Cup opener in Chennai on October 8.
Regular captain Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli with quicks Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj were back in India’s line-up for this game. Australia too had their skipper Pat Cummins, his pace colleague Mitchell Starc and Glenn Maxwell in the XI.
Both sides were relatively at their full strength, but the Australians fared better in conditions loaded massively in favour of the batters, winning by 66 runs.
On a “highway-like pitch” at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium, each of Australia’s top four — David Warner (56), getting his third successive half-century, Mitch Marsh (96), Steve Smith (74) and Marnus Labuschagne (72) — hit brisk 50-plus scores that powered Australia to 352/7.
At one stage, it did seem Australia would reach 400 after the rollicking start that Warner and Marsh had provided them with. However, what bodes well for India is both Bumrah and Siraj were quite economical in the death overs in spite of getting a stick early on from the Australian openers.
While Siraj focused on the yorker-length stuff and stump-to-stump line, Bumrah mixed it up with the slower ones as well. The pace duo’s death bowling is certainly another positive for India going into the World Cup.
During India’s reply, both Rohit (81) and Kohli (56) got some very good batting practice. But what would worry them is their inability to tackle part-time spinner Glenn Maxwell, whose 4/40 restricted them to 286.
Kohli, in particular, barely looked comfortable before Maxwell, who was playing his first game of the series.
Skipper Rohit, however, believes his team knows where its heading. “When we talk about the 15-man squad, we’re very clear on what we want and who the guys are to do the job for us. We’re not confused. We know exactly where we are heading,” Rohit said.
Southee boost for Black Caps
Auckland: Senior pacer Tim Southee has been cleared to join the New Zealand squad for the ODI World Cup, as he continues to recover from a surgery on his right thumb.
The 34-year-old broke and dislocated his right thumb while attempting to take a catch in the fourth ODI against England earlier this month.
He will fly out to India on Saturday, and New Zealand are hopeful of Southee’s recovery in time for their World Cup opener against defending champions England on October 5 in Ahmedabad.
“Tim Southee has been cleared to join the Black Caps in India later this week as he continues to progress in his recovery from surgery on his fractured right thumb,” a NZC (New Zealand Cricket) statement read.
Kyle Jamieson, however, has also been added to the squad as Southee’s cover. “As a contingency, pacer Kyle Jamieson will also join the World Cup squad in India,” the statement read.
Jamieson will not be taking part in the warm-up matches though.