Team India’s listless performance in the two ODIs against Australia has come as a shock to aficionados of the game. Not in recent memory has Virat Kohli’s men looked so indifferent
in their approach — their batting lacks depth, the bowling looks unable to make dents and the positive energy that makes this side thrive is suddenly missing.
It has reflected in the result with Australia having already wrapped up the three-match series. A 0-3 defeat would be their second rout in consecutive ODI series, having met the same fate in New Zealand earlier this year.
The ODI series now shifts to Canberra but a change in venue may not necessarily bring about a change in fortunes. The last seven games in the Australian capital have all been won by the side batting first, six of them while defending 320-plus totals.
The Indians arrived in Canberra from Sydney on Monday. They made the three-hour journey in a coach and went through an optional training session on match eve.
A thunderstorm lashed the Manuka Oval on Tuesday but the forecast is for bright and clear skies on Wednesday.
The Indians know that a victory in Canberra could do a lot to boost the team morale ahead of the upcoming T20I series. They will look to make the most of the absence of the injured David Warner and Pat Cummins, who has been rested.
There is talk that the team management could rest Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah with an eye on managing their workload ahead of the four-Test series. T. Natarajan or Shardul Thakur could get a chance for the first time on this tour. Navdeep Saini, who has looked clueless, could also be axed.
There is also the option of giving Kuldeep Yadav a chance and playing three specialist spinners though that seems remote. If Kuldeep is in the XI, then Yuzvendra Chahal may have to sit out.
India won’t have happy memories from their last ODI in Canberra in 2016. They were 277 for 1 with centuries from Shikhar Dhawan and Kohli, and needed 72 from 75 balls to win. But Dhawan’s wicket triggered a collapse and the last nine wickets fell for 46 runs. Kane Richardson turned out to be the Man of the Match with a five-wicket haul.
But it’s the Indian bowling that will be under the scanner again. Shreyas Iyer though tried to defend the bowlers at a media conference on Tuesday.
“If you see the amount of workload they’ve gone through in the IPL and after that they’ve come here and stayed in quarantine… definitely it plays on your mind. And it plays with every individual in the team, it’s not just the bowlers.
“We’re working on some routines and processes which haven’t gone well for us in the last few games,” said Shreyas.
Match starts: 9.10am IST